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This translation first published 1968 
Copyright © Geoffrey Brereton, 1968 

Made and printed in Great Britain 

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Introduction 9 

Acknowledgements 3 1 

The Chronological Background 33 

BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

Prologue 37 

The Beginning of a Reign 3 9 

Deposition of Edward II and Accession of Edward III 39 

The Scots Invade England 46 

Edward III Does Homage to Philip VI 55 

Preliminaries of the Hundred Years War 5 7 

Battle of Sluys 62 

The Order of the Garter 66 

The Campaign of Crecy 68 

The Siege of Calais 97 

Black Death, Flagellants and Jews 1 1 1 

Sea Battle off Winchelsea 113 

The Siege of Breteuil and the Poitiers Campaign 1 20 

Consequences of Poitiers 1 46 

The Three Estates; the Free Companies 1 46 

The Jacquerie 151 

The East Days of '^tienne Marcel 155 

Brigandry, Warfare and Predictions 161 

King John's Return to England and his Death 167 

The Battle of Montiel and Death of Peter the Cruel 170 

The Sack of Limoges 175 

The Turn of the Tide 181 

Du Guesclin Appointed Constable 181 

Ea Kochelle Goes Over to the French 182 

John of Gaunfs Fruitless Expedition 186 

The End of a Reign 193 


BOOK TWO (1376-85) 

Papal Affairs and the Great Schism 201 

The Great Schism 205 

The Peasants' Revolt in England 21 1 

Affairs of Flanders 231 

Battle of Roosebeke 243 

Charles VI Marries Isabella of Bavaria 252 

BOOK THREE (1386-8) 

At the Court of the Count of Foix 263 

The Haunting of Sir Peter 275 
Reminiscences of the Bascot de Mauleon, Freebooter 280 

The Tale of the Familiar 295 

Preparations for a French Invasion of England 303 

Trial by Combat 309 

Richard II's First Struggle with his Uncles 316 

John of Gaunt's Expedition to Spain 328 

The Battle of Otterburn (Chevy Chase) 335 

BOOK FOUR (1389-I400) 

Queen Isabella's Entry into Paris 351 

A Royal Visitation 361 

Tournament at Saint-Inglevert . 373 

The Duke of Touraine in Trouble 382 

The Death of the Count of Foix 386 

Charles VI Goes Mad 392 

Froissart Revisits England 402 

The English in Ireland 409 

Two Marriages 418 

The Downfall of Richard II 421 

The Murder of Gloucester 421 

The Challenge and Bolingbroke^s Banishment 433 

Richard loses Control 44° 

The Return 0/ Bolinghroke 44^ 

The Surrender of King Richard 447 

Richard* s Abdication 459 



Coronation of Bolingbroke 462 

Plots against Henry IV 466 

The End of Richard of Bordeaux 468 

Notes in Form of Glossary 473 
Map: France and Neighbouring Territories in the 

Fourteenth Century 4-78 

Index of Persons 48 1 


FROLSSA RTT-^ o mpHm Ps l o o sely described as the hist orlaa-of 
th e Hundred Year s War (he was both more and less than that), 
was one of the greatest of the medieval European writers. In 
his own cen tury, -the fourt eenth^ it is not easy to see anyone 
who can Idc put beside him as a prose-writer. But the literary 
language of the day was still predominantly verse, and prose 
was still regarded as something of a utility medium. Because 
of this and because Froissart is known principally for his 
descriptions of warfare - an absorbing but ultimately limiting 
topic - it has not always been realized that he offers a range of 
interest not so greatly inferior to that of Chaucer, his almost 
exact contemporary, or that his Chronicles tqy^zI the same kind of 
human and social curiosity which underlies the Canterbury Tales. 
Froissart also wrote verse, prolifically but not very memorably, 
but it is for the Chronicles, that vast work to which he devoted 
most of his life, that he is rightly read and remembered. > 

In one sense, Frois sarl was ibg^^firgt of the great war- 
r eporters. T o say this is to compare his work less to the day- 
to-day despatches filed for a newspaper deadline than to the 
books written afterwards by the best of modern correspond- 
ents, based on a combination of personal experience, reflection 
and research. If one described Froissart as the earliest great 
journalist, this would be no disparagement of his literary 
merits. It would simply mark the difference between a natur- 
ally extrovert writer and an introvert such as another of his 
contemporaries, Petrarch. Both produced 'literature', and the 
dedication and skill which went into a few pages of action 
description by Froissart were not less than Petrarch displayed 
in some analysis of emotion in a sonnet. 

Jean Froissart was born, probably in 1337,^ at Valenciennes, 

I . Almost the whole of Froissart's biography is based on occasional 
statements in his own works, or on deductions drawn from them. There 
are no external references of any importance. He is sometimes inconsistent 
and his remarks suggest two different birth-dates, the other being 1333. 



a prosperous town now in north-east France, but then in the 
independent County of Hainault. While his birthplace lay near 
to territory ruled by the Kings of France and his language was 
French, his nationality was not. What is known of his family 
indicates that they were local business-people, with a strong 
interest in money-lending, and that Froissart was expected to 
follow the same career. He gravitated instead towards cojiirt. 
life^ helped by his facility for wfltlng verse, which would give 
him a place among the minstrels and clerks maintained by 
most of the great households. His first patron was quite 
possibly John of Hainault, the uncle of the ruling Count, 
though there is no certainty about these early years. In his 
twenties he went to the court of England, a fairly natural move 
for a citizen of the Netherlands. The two countries had close 
connexions based on common trading interests, alliances 
directed against France and dynastic marriages. Philippa of 
Hainault, who had become Queen of England by her early 
marriage to Edward III, took him into her service as one of 
her 'household clerks'. 

According to his own statement,^ Froissart reached England 
in 1 361, the year after peace had been concluded between 
England and France and while the English were still riding on 
the crest of the wave thrown up by the great victory at Poitiers 
five years earlier. London was still full of unransomed Frenzh 
prisoners and hostages, including princes of the royal family, 
who were there to guarantee payment of the huge sum of three 
million francs agreed on for the release of King John. Froissart 
remained attached for a number of years to the English royal 
household, only quitting it definitely on the death of Queen 
Philippa in 1369. He became familiar with London and the 
royal residences in and around it: the Tower, Westminster 
Palace, Eltham, Leeds Castle, Windsor, Langley, Berkhamsted. 
In 1365 he made a three-month journey to Scotland and 
travelled as far as the Highlands, which he calls *Wild Scot- 
land', in the train of David II Bruce. On another occasion he 
visited the Welsh Marches, riding among the towns and castles 
of Severnside in the company of Edward Despenser, whose 

I. See below, p. 470. 



turbulent family had once possessed vast estates in the region. 
During that period he revisited the Continent several times, 
staying both in Valenciennes and Brussels, the capital of Bra- 
bant, and establishing or strengthening his connexions with 
the ruling houses of the Netherlands. Since there was then 
peace between France and England, he could also travel 
through French territory, at the risk only of falling in with the 
bandit soldiers of the Free Companies, and he went south to 
Avignon and w^est to Brittany. From Brittany he travelled, 
apparently overland, to Aquitaine, which the Black Prince was 
ruling as his father's viceroy. Froissart was present in Bor- 
deaux, * sitting at table', he says, when the future Richard II 
was born there at the beginning of 1367. 

In the following year he was a member of the English party 
which went to Italy with Edward Ill's second son, Lionel of 
Clarence, for his marriage to Violante Visconti of Milan. 
Geoffrey Chaucer was in the same retinue. Petrarch, consider- 
ably senior to both of them in years and reputation, was an 
honoured guest at the feasts. There is no record that any of 
them exchanged a word or made the slightest personal im- 
pression on the others. Froissart mentions Petrarch nowhere 
and Chaucer only once, as a member of a diplomatic mission in 
1 376. Since court circles were restricted, he may well have been 
acquainted with him in 1368, but it would only have been as a 
young official. Neither had yet written their important works. 

Froissart returned slowly from Milan, visiting Rome and 
Ferrara and hearing the news of Queen Philippa's death while 
he was in Brussels. No doubt realizing that there would be 
nothing for him in England, he did not go back, but stayed in 
the Netherlands for most of the remainder of his life. He wa s 
to_have^three ^eat lords as his principal patrons: Robert of 
ISfamur ^ ofj he family of the Count of Flanders, Wenceslas of^ 
B^iemk^JDuke .of Luxembourg and Brabant, and Guy de 
Chatillon, Count of Blois, who was related to the French royal 
line and possessed extensive territories in the Netherlands. It 
was for Robert of Namur, according to his first Prologue, that 
Froissart began writing the Chronicles, either in 1 369 or shortly 



Although this was the earliest version of Book I of the 
Chronicles as we know them,' it can hardly have been his first 
attempt in the medium. He says in his prologue to Book IV, 
written many years later, that he had served Queen Philippa 
with *fine ditties and writings on love', which no doubt meant 
sentimental poetry in the conventional verse-forms to be read 
aloud or, more usually, set to music and sung troubadour- 
fashion. But also, in the prologue to Book I (included in this 
selection), he speaks of a youthful work of a different nature 
which he had presented to the Queen on his first arrival in 
England. Although no trace of it remains, it can hardly have 
been other than a rhymed and partly romanced chronicle of a 
kind already in favour. Throughout his stay in England 
Froissart's duties, in part at least, bear the appearance of those 
of an accredited chronicler. His variousjouiiieys^j^rtkularly;^ 
^at to Scotland, seem to have^^eQllQ UfQcys in search of 
niaterialT^uthorized^, and perhaps subsidi zed, by his _xoyal 
pgrtroTiT'Tfaefe are other indications to bear this out, but the 
strongest is the remark which he records on the occasion of 
the birth of Richard of Bordeaux : 'At that hour Sir Richard de 
Pontchardon, who was Marshal of Aquitaine at the time, 
entered and said to me: "Froissart, write down and place on 
record that her Highness the Princess has been delivered of a 
fine boy . . .".' That was in January 1367, and it carries the 
definite implication that Froissart was already regarded as an 
official recorder of public events. 

One must therefore suppose that the chronicle which Frois- 
sart began writing for Robert of Namur was based in part at 
least on material gathered professionally during the previous 
ten years or so, and in part already written up in some form, 
though no manuscript survives as evidence of this. Perhaps it 
merely consisted of a running Diary of Events, of the kind 
classed as annals. When, however, he undertook the com- 
position of a continuous and pleasantly readable narrative of 
' the great wars of France and England ' - to which were later 
added those of other countries - he had to go back in time to a 

I. For fuller details of the various texts of the Cljrotiicles, see below, p. 

24 ff. 



d ate well beyond his own birth and experience. His solution 
was to base the first part of his narrative on the Chronicle of a 
compatriot, Jean Le Bel. Le BelTVlcnight anH"soIHier - which 
Froissart was not - hadTbeen a fairly important member of the 
entourage of John of Hainault. He had taken part in some of 
the events he described, such as Edward Ill's campaign against 
the Scots in 1327. Though evidently not present at Crecy him- 
self, he was closely acquainted with some who fought on the 
French side. In reading many of the earlier pages of Froissart's 
Book I, it must be remembered that the author one is reading 
is really Le Bel. Froissart takes long passages from him almost 
word for word, while fully acknowledging his debt to him in 
his prologue. 

It has been well said that Froissart has absorbed Le Bel. For 
a long time the latter's chronicle lay forgotten and it survives 
only in a single anonymous manuscript. ^ But it w^as on that 
foundation that Froissart went on to build his own more 
colourful and adventurous work. After ji^q-6i, when Le 
Bells_ dironicl e.,£nd.s^e is entirely on his own, but already 
befhr£_-that__jlate_the_independent descriptions begin. A 
notable example is the Battle of Poitiers, which Le Bel had 
recorded only in outline. 

At about the time when he finished his long Book I in its 
first version, he took holy orders and became the parish priest 
of Estinnes-au-Mont in Brabant, which was in the gift of Guy 
de Chatillon. The protection of Robert of Namur seems to 
have ceased then and henceforward his principal patrons were 
Guy de Chatillon and Wenceslas of Bohemia. Whereas Robert 
of Namur was pro-English - he married a sister of Queen 
Philippa and commanded a ship in King Edward's fleet at the 
Battle of Winchelsea, as Froissart records - the other two sup- 
ported the French. Wenceslas was the son of the blind King of 
Bohemia who fell at Crecy. These circumstances no doubt 
coloured the revised versions of Book I which Froissart went 
on to write and had some influence on the tone and content of 
the three subsequent Books. But it is possible to make too 

I. Edited by J. Viard and E. Deprez (Societe de I'Histoire de France, 




much of Froissart's supposed swing from pro-Englishness to 
pro-Frenchness. For one thing, the concept of nationalism 
which it implies would be anachronistic in the society for 
which he wrote. Most of these ruling houses were interrelated 
and a change of side was sometimes a mere political gambit.' 
For anothe r, Froissar^ was jilwaj^ striving to be impartial. In 
warfare he constantlyjooks^fpx die outstanding deed and his 
praise goes to whoever produces it, no matter which side he is 
on. Thermairi effect of his French connexions was that they 
changed and widened his horizon. He was able to travel more 
freely in French territory and to mingle with French person- 
alities, so that his account of the affairs of Western Europe 
became fuller and more balanced and contained in particular 
most interesting portraits of the Valois royal line. 

For Wenceslas of Bohemia he wrote a long verse romance, 
Meliador^ in which he managed to incorporate the short poems, 
ballades and rondeaux^ composed by his patron, an aristocratic 
practitioner of the minstrel's art. When Wenceslas died in 
1383, he became a chaplain to Guy de Blois, was appointed 
canon of Chimay, near Liege, and continued his work on the 

During this whole period he seems to have remained in the 
Netherlands, apart from comparatively short visits to France. 
In his later years he made two notable journeys. The first in 
1388, was to Foix and Beam, a small independent principality 
on the northern side of the Pyrenees, where he went to gather 
information on the wars in Spain and Portugal. He travelled 
there via Blois, carrying letters of introduction from his patron 
Guy and picking up en route two couples of greyhounds as a 
present for the Count of Foix. His stay in the south and, the 
impression made on him by the somewhat enigmatic Gaston 
Phoebus of Foix provide one of the most intriguing sections 
of the ChroMiLksjasid are represented in this volume. 

The second journey was to England - a sentimental one, 

I. Even Robert de Namur changed sides temporarily, accepting a 
pension from Charles V in 1368, though by 1376 he was back in Edward 
Ill's pay. It is hazardous to say categorically which side he supported at 
the date when Froissart began the Chronicles. 



apparently, to revis it the country he had last seen twenty-seven 
years before. He arrived at the court of Richard II in the last 
years of that unfortunate monarch, presented him with a book 
* about love', and stayed in England for three months. When, 
only five years later, he wrote in Hainault the immediately 
topical story of Richard's downfall and the triumph of Boling- 
broke, he was at least familiar with some of the chief actors, if 
not with the exact progression of events. 

The Cbromckstndin 1 400 . Froissart is believed to have lived 
on until about 1410 and to have been buried at Chimay, where 
he held his canonry. But of his last years absolutely nothing 
definite is known. 


l-^jpisR^rf's aJlPJ" the Chronicles was to record all the important 
events which had occurred in Western Europe in his lifetime, 
and one or two decades before. These events were pfe- 
dommantly military, but also political and social, as seen from 
the viewpoints of the courts in which he lived. They sternmed 
frorELtkeioxigrivalry between England and France, their wars, 
their negotiations, their defensive and offensive alliances, but 
there were many ramifications to that central theme. There 
were the internal affairs of the two countries. There were their 
s eparate w ars^in Scotland, Flanders, Spain, Italy, Hungary^ 
Barbary - sometimes, but not always, a by-product of their 
mutual rivalry - and besides that there were the independent 
developments in some of those countries. To cover this huge 
field, which today would occupy scores of correspondents, 
agencies and all the modern techniques of communication, 
Froissart relied mainly on his eyes and ears, his personal con- 
nexions, and a horse. No doubt he made some use of docu- 
mentary sources, in addition to Le Bel, but most of his 
material was collected in the way he describes: by being 
present when possible at official occasions, by going about 
asking questions, by skilfully conducted conversations with 
men who had fought in battles and particularly with heralds, 
one of whose duties was to record deeds of arms on the spot 



and to identify and list the casualties. Immediately afterwards, 
he made written notes on what he had been told. 

The result was a nc^^ind of rhionicle, combining the 
virtu£s_andjdefect^^LtheJndivi^jJ^^ and the all- "~ 

seeing^eyg.. Partly because of the method of compilation and 
partly because of Froissart's literary skill, it differed from the 
many other chronicles composed to that date. These had been 
of three main kinds. Either they were personal accounts by 
men who had played a part in events, very valuable for their 
authenticity, but limited in scope and sometimes baldly 
written; or they were official records of the sort usually kept 
by religious communities, generally though not invariably 
trustworthy, but lacking in detail and life; or they were sagas, 
nearly always in verse, romancing the exploits of some 
legendary hero or atterhpting to create a legend for a modern 
one. These three basic but conflicting approaches to history 
and biography are endemic in all literature, and all can be seen 
in Froissart. His combination of them produced a fascinating 
work, but one which contains numerous puzzles and anomalies. 
His overriding preoccupation was undoubtedly to present the 
factual truth, but his talent - developing as he grew older - 
was for passages, long or short, of exciting and continuous 
narrative. This left little place for admissions of ignorance or 

The modern factual historian uses him with great circum- 
spection, not to say suspicion. Froissart has often been proved 
wrongjon j)Oints of detail, places^ dates and sometimes on ' 
larger questions. But even in those fields he is often right and 
one~must always bear in mind that because of his contem- 
porary position he had access, or may have had access, to sources 
of information now lost. For the precise historian, this is_thc 
most irritating situation possTBTe!~He cannot - as was the 
tendency some fifty years ago - discard Froissart as altogether 
unreliable. He has to be patient and compare Froissart's version 

I. Although he sometimes writes: 'According to my information . . .' 
or 'I do not know what became of him', such reservations usually bear on 
unimportant points. Also, one feels that he might have admitted doubt 
more often. 



with other evidence, where it is available, concluding some- 
times in favour of Froissart. 

In outline, he is generally trustworthy. It is his detailed 
narrative - for example, when writing of events in England 
when he himself was in the Netherlands - which is often 
questionable. In this translation I have pointed out in foot- 
notes or in other ways some of his more important errors, but 
many have been left unannotated. Rather than crowd these 
pages with what, on the whole, would be minor corrections 
and qualifications, it seemed preferable to leave his masterly 
accounts of such things as the Peasants' Revolt and the down- 
fall of Richard II to speak for themselves. The latter has some- 
thing of the grand sweep of Shakespeare's Richard II, though 
written two centuries earlier. Both, whether regarded as fact 
or fact-based fiction, have the great merit of presenting those 
happenings as a contemporary mind saw them. 


One may be tempted into reading the Chronicles as romanced 
history, like the historical novel of a later age, and there seems 
no harm in yielding to the temptation. But there is much more 
to be had. When the military historian has retired in frustration 
and the political historian has gone back prudently to Rymer 
and the Record Office, the social historian still has a diamond 
mine in front of him. Even more - though this is not yet an 
academically defined branch of history - the student of social 
and moral attitudes. How people Hved, how they reacted and 
perhaps why, what were the considerations which determined 
their behaviour and opinions. Much information on such 
things can be learnt or deduced from Froissart. 

Qn^-the-4i]g.t erial aspects o X.jife he is an_ invaluable guid^j^ 
customs, dress, eating anddrinking, housing, trade, cere- 
monial. warfare. He throws light on all these incidentally and 
is necessarily reliable. It may be that a particular battle, or even 
a tournament or a procession, did not go exactly as he describes 
it, but there can be no doubt that battles in general were fought 
in that way, tournaments were so conducted, processions so 



ordered. He was writing for a knowledgeable contemporary 
audience who would require his account to be realistic. On 
such matters he can be trusted implicitly. 

He is deeply-illumi nating on the menta l a ttitudes o f hjs 
century^ though the fact may not be so immediately apparent. 
The tone in which that hardened old captain of mercenaries, 
the Bascot de Mauleon, relates his experiences explains more 
than a whole treatise on the Free Companies. The conversation 
of Henry Crystede, as Froissart reports it, is a more enlighten- 
ing comment on Anglo-Irish relations than anything that 
could be achieved by a formal analysis. Neither of these could 
have been invented. A conversation such as that of Thomas, 
Duke of Gloucester, talking in private to his confidant, may 
well have been : it could hardly be otherwise. But the kind of 
language which Froissart attributes to him is likely to have 
been characteristic. Only a year or two earlier the chronicler 
had been at the English court. Even if he did not meet 
Gloucester (though he is believed to have done so and to have 
visited him at Pleshey), he had been in circles where Glou- 
cester's way of talking was well known and, it seems fair to 
assume, was regarded as something of a joke. So it may have 
been also at the court of Hainault, for which the account of it 
was written. By such typical and familiar touches Froissart 
brings us near to the feeling of his age. Sometimes the ques- 
tions at issue are relatively trivial. Sometimes they touch the 
foundations of medieval society. 

Froissart has always beenregarded a s an admi rer of chivalry 
and^arthe^'okesman to^n over-exclusive degree of the ruHYig 
and'knightly^class. In a sense it was inevitable, for that was 
wliere fiis readers lay. He respects hJ£h_rank, admires the 
knight for his fighting quaUties in particular, and praises 
generosity in money and other matters. But the portrait is not 
all idealistic. Indeed, in reading Froissart with one's mind free 
of Victorian preoccupations with * very perfect gentle knights' 
(who were Arthurian rather than Chaucerian), one's first im- 
pression is of crudely savage small wars and private feuds in 
emergent nations not far removed from tribalism. Over this 
brutal reality were pasted a few laudatory adjectives such as 


* noble ' and ' gallant ' which deceived no one, though they may- 
have made them feel better. On examination this too is an 
exaggeration, because the savagery of fourteenth-century 
Europe was tempered and sometimes controlled by a tradition 
of order and culture. Its guardians were precisely the same 
knightly class which on occasion massacred its prisoners and 
tortured its enemies in public. 

For Froissart they were its only guardians, and who can say 
that he was wrong ? He shows the Papacy in disarray^, haying 
lost much of its p restige, but still ho nestly striving, like 
some half-effective United Nations, to m ediate without_true 
s anctions. _ Though a priest, Froissart is not respectful towards 
Rome or Avignon, and in this he appears to reflect the outlook 
of the secular lords. The latter alone had effective power for 
good or evil, in which consisted both their significance for the 
chronicler and their interest for the writer. They possessed a 
code of behaviour - a caste code, certainly, founded largely on 
mutual self-interest, and in which money played a leading part 
- which it was the exception not to observe and whose impera- 
tives were backed ultimately by force. 'My lord,* says Sir 
Walter Manny to Edward III, when the King is contemplating 
killing all the defenders of Calais, including the knights of the 
garrison, *you are setting a bad example for us. Suppose one 
day you sent us to defend one of your fortresses, we should go 
less cheerfully if you have these people put to death, for then 
they would do the same to us if they had the chance.' At Crecy 
(as elsewhere), it is the pillagers and irregulars, 'Welshmen 
and Cornishmen armed with long knives ', who slip about the 
battlefield slaughtering the wounded French knights, whereas 
the King would have liked to have had them spared to pay 

It is hardly cynical to say that this was chivalr}" in Froissart's 
dayand eyes, an observance of rules^ aniong an international 
stratum of ~societyl:hrough fear qf^ the penalti es of infringe- 
ment. Of course it had its forms which were highly important 
because the image they helped to create promoted the knightly 
ideal. Men sometimes behaved 'chivalrously' or 'courteously' 
with no thought of self-interest : the blind King of Bohemia, 



King John the Good of France, the Black Prince after Poitiers, 
all in their different ways. This was the ideal pattern, rare 
enough to be singled out for special mention, and not of 
course without influence on lesser men. But its continued 
existence still depended on the power to enforce its moral 

The common people had no such power, and therefore no 
such code. Froissart has often been criticized for his disregard 
of them, sharpening in several passages into contempt. One 
must first say that sympathy with them would have been ex- 
ceptional in a writer of his century, long before there was a 
mystique of the^oletariat. One can also say that, from the 
point of view of the whole of the gentry, especiallyjnFrance, 
they belonged to a different, virtually a foreign, race. In 
Froissart's account of the jacquerie the colonialist spirit is 
strikingly evident. First come the rising and the ghastly 
atrocity stories. The masters flee to a place of temporary safety 
and barricade themselves there. Help is ridden in from abroad 
by other masters equipped with the most advanced and costly 
armament of the day, armour impervious against sticks and 
knives, horses they have been trained to manipulate, lances 
and swords. TJiey-jnow- down the peasants in thousands, kill- 
ing_th em 'li ke cattle', as they no doubt regarded them. But 
Froissart's most revealing phrase, underlining intentionally or 
not a physical difference between the races, is this : ' There they 
faced the villeins, small and dark and very poorly armed, con- 
fronting them with the banners of the Count of Foix and the 
Duke of Orleans . . .'. 

For Froissart and many others the villeins were an unknown 
and dangerous quantity, who. could unaccountably become 
that most detestable of all things - a mob. While a modern 
observer would condone a popular rising if he found it to be 
unpremeditated and unorganized, those are precisely its worst 
features in Froissart's eyes. 'Those wicked men,' he writes^ 
'who had come together without leaders and with no proper 
arms_j,_^^ When asked why they did these things, they replied 

I. For a further note on 'chivalry' the reader is referred to that word in 
the Glossary, p. 474. 



that they did not know.' Leaderless, planless, weaponless, 
tKeSF-aie^cited not as proofs of innocence, but as the most 
damning parts of the indictment. The Jacquerie was a negation 
of Order, which for Froissart was paramount, combined with 
Reason if possible, but if not possible, alone. The harshest 
ruler was preferable to one who could not compel obedience 
to a law. Everywhere in Froissart one meets this same pre- 
occupation, whether the order is military - the trained soldier 
observes it on purely practical grounds, the citi2en army 
usually lacks it - or whether it extends to the government of a 
whole realm. The greatest evils were disorder and anarchy, 
and in the context of the age this is understandable because the 
worst sufferings came from such sources - from peasant re- 
volts, civil wars and bands of unemployed mercenaries. 
Froissart was too near to analyse the deeper causes of these - 
that is his main limitation - but he saw and depicted their effects. 

He did evolve, however. His account of the Peasants' Revolt 
in England is very different from his account of the Jacquerie, 
which had occurred over twenty years earlier. He is a wa re of 
s uch causes as taxation and se rfdom. He divides the rebels into 
'bad' and 'good', conceding that there were many of the 
latter, who, after their perhaps not unreasonable demands had 
been satisfied, were prepared to go quietly home. He para- 
phrases John Ball's sermon in terms which put the peasants' 
case movingly and effectively. He does not say that "he agrees 
with it - indeed, he condemns John Ball very strongly as a 
trouble-maker - but at least he gives him a hearing. Whether 
this was true ambivalence on Froissart' s part, whether his 
social conscience was clandestinely evolving, or whether, with 
a romancer's instinct rather than an historian's, he was simply 
writing what his imagination dictated to him, are probably 
unanswerable questions. Their complexity at least suggests a 
corresponding complexity in Froissart. 

Although he had attached himself to the nobility, Froissart 
Ajias a^product of the merchant middle class in a region where 
it was especidly powerful and militant. It is not easy to deter- 
mine the part wKch this played in his work. His constant refer- 
ences to money- values reflect an obsession which was common 



to both the bourgeoisie and the aristocracy, and to which only 
the very greatest (and not always they) were immune. He 
writes with a fuller understanding and warmth of the citizen- 
led revolts in the Netherlands than a purely aristocratic 
chronicler would have done, though generally careful to show 
that ultimately he is not on that side. Ethically, his conscience 
can be seen to be middle class, sentimental and not hierarchical 
- as, over the next three or four centuries, the whole con- 
science of Western Europe was to become. The germs of both 
protestantism and humanism are in his work, unrecognized 
naturally by himself, but detectable in retrospect. 

His attitude towards the Papacy is detached and even mock- 
ing. When he speaks of the Church as an establishment, it is as 
a pillar of stability in the same way as the nobility, or else as a 
source and possessor of wealth in the form of estates and en- 
dowments. He re cords- the dee ds of priests most enthusias^c- 
allyjwhen they are performed in battle - when the man of God 
has become assimilated to the man-at-arms. Saints and their 
shrines he treats with respect, as is only to be expected, though 
how far this is conventional there is no means of telling. It is 
equally difficult to decide whether his invocations of God stem 
from customary piety or express a more personal feeling. ' May 
God have mercy on his soul 1 ' he writes often enough, after 
recording the death of some usually admirable man. Whether 
heartfelt or a cliche, the exclamation does suppose an appeal 
from the harshness of this world to some absolute principle of 
justice and mercy such as the protestant spirit was about to 
attempt in its direct dialogue with God. 

Very often he invokes pity, not always in a religious con- 
text. The word has become debased in modern English and, 
fter a description of some particularly barbarous deed, it is. 
impossible to translate literally Froissart's comment that 'It 
was a great pity'. But there are other ways of rendering it, and 
the comment and the concept are there. So, more rarely, are 
his references to 'humanity' and 'inhuman acts'. What all this 
amounts to is an emotional protest, religious perhaps in origin 
but not always in expression, against the barbarity and in- 
justice which pursue the partly or wholly innocent. Froissart 



makes it explicitly when describing the massacre at Limoges, 
notwithstanding that it was ordered by his hero the Black 
Prince. There and elsewhere, he remarks that humble people, 
who were in no way guilty, suffered more than the great lords 
who were. Is this, contrary to what has been written above, a 
democratic impulse? In embryo perhaps, since it carries a 
condemnation of the great in certain rare circumstances. But it 
belongs more properly to the whole concept of the humanist 
conscience, just beginning to be outraged by the inflexibility 
of a gradually declining Order, and moved to spontaneous 
sympathy with its innocent victims. 


There is very much more in Froissart than descriptions of 
battles and pageantry, though those were no doubt his 
strongest single feature. He developed considerably in the 
thirty years during which he was composing the Chronicles^ 
and the,xhang^^ StylewiU be noticeable in translation. Some- 
what ters£_and.,stiffm^the early part, when he is either repro- 
ducing or imitating Le Bel, he later grows more relaxed - rnore 
wordy, to o - and in many passages his styl^becomes^conversa; 
tional. Thi^follow:s in part from his technique of chatting 
with his informants and ^rawing them out until he had the^ 
whole story in theirowiL words. He obviously had the gift of 
winning people's confidence and encouraging them to talk. 
Thus, some of his most successful chapters are simply records 
of conversations between Froissart and an informant. Or so 
they are presented, though no doubt a good deal of rearrange- 
ment and rewriting went into them. 

But besides these passages of interview type, Froissart uses 
c onversation _as_a method of narrative. There is dialogue in 
nearly every one of his stories, and sometimes it is used to tell 
practically the whole of them. This was altogether unprece- 
dented inj^e^chronicles of his century and was his great inno- 
vation as a writer. He uses dialogue, not only to heighten the 
immediacy of his reports, but as a means of characterization. 
While he commanded a lesser range of vocabulary than a 



modern writer,' within his limits he succeeded in conveying 
the differences in language and tone belonging to different 
speakers. They spoke as they lived, in person, class and cir- 
cumstance: Gaunt speaking for the Throne in one idiom, the 
officers in the field in another, the populace in yet another. 
This characterization through dialogue, which would now be 
seen as a dramatist's quality, is a particular danger-sign for the 
historian. Froissart reports conversations which he could 
never have o^^jcheafd "anH^'^h are most^unlikelY_to_have_ 
been repe ated to him . A similar reservation applies to his 
second great virtue as a narrator, his use of concrete detail. It 
is a method which carries conviction so long as the reader 
surrenders to the story-teller. Once adopted, it cannot be 
abandoned in mid-course, since a retreat into vagueness would 
break the illusion of omniscience. But a critical reader quickly 
realizes that many small touches have been introduced less for 
their factual truth than for verisimilitude. Froissart is relating 
what must have happened, rather than what did. 

He thus uses, at a very early date, techniques of the historical 
novelist to write what purports to be history. Indeed it is 
history in many places, as far as is known or where there is no 
other good authority to check him by. This tantalizing area of 
doubt makes him endlessly explorable and debatable as a 
chronicler, though never negligible. As a popularizer of 
history, whose account of certain famous events is by now so 
deeply engraved on the West European mind as to be almost 
ineradicable, he is quite unrivalled. To that quality he has 
always owed the majority of his readers, and should continue 
to do so. But a not inconsiderable minority will study him as a 
representative mentality of the fourteenth century. 


Of the four Books into which the Chronicles are divided. Book I 
is considerably the longest and presents the principal editorial 

I. Thus, his one word volontiers can be translated as: 'Yes', 'Yes in- 
deed', 'Of course', 'Certainly', 'Willingly', 'By all means', 'Right 'and 
so on. 



problems. Covering in its different forms the years 1322-78 
(the first four years and the last five very sketchily), it exists in 
three main versions. The first of these was evidently written 
for the most part between 1 369 and 1 373, in the circumstances 
already described. It is preserved in about fifty manuscripts, 
complete or fragmentary, one group of which constitutes a 
'revision'. It incorporates, virtually unchanged, long passages 
of Le Bel's chronicle. It is by very far the most popular and 
best known of the different versions and has been reproduced 
in all the printed editions, from Antoine Verard's in the late 
fifteenth century until today. 

A second version of Book I shows less reliance on Le Bel 
and contains interesting expansions in parts, though abridge- 
ments in others. It exists in a single complete manuscript, the 
Amiens AIS. 

A third version also exists in one manuscript only, the 
Kome MS. It is considerably fuller and more original than the 
preceding versions. Beginning to write it after 1400, near 
the end of his life, Froissart most probably intended it as the 
definitive version, superseding the others. But it cannot be 
used to replace them, since it runs only to 1350. 

In contrast to Book I, Book II presents no great problems. 
There is only one version, preserved in some thirty manu- 
scripts containing comparatively minor differences among 
them. Covering 1376-85, it slightly overlaps the end of 
Book I. It was probably begun in 1387 and completed by 1388. 
It incorporates, with certain abridgements and changes, a 
separate work of Froissart's, The Chronicles of Flanders, con- 
vincingly dated 1386. 

Of Book III there are two main versions, but except for the 
speciali2ed scholar, the differences between them are not great. 
The first (represented by for example the Besangon MS and 
the revised BreslauMS) was composed in 1 390-1, the second 
probably in 1396. Here again, there is a backward overlap 
with previous books - a very considerable one if one counts 
the reminiscences extracted by Froissart from his interviewees 
- but the main period covered is 1386-8. 

Book IV, covering 13 89-1400, exists in only one version, 



with minor variants among the manuscripts. It was begun 
some time after 1395 and completed by 1400. 

The Chronicles were first printed in France soon after print- 
ing began there, but there is still no completely satisfactory 
edition of the whole work. In view of the complexity of the 
task and the almost superhuman labour involved, this is not 
really surprising. The most authoritative edition of the text 
is that of the Societe de I'Histoire de France (Chrotiiques^ 1 5 
vols, 1 869-195 7, in progress), which so far, however, stops a 
little after the middle of Book III (1387). For the crucial 
Book I it prints a revision of the First Version as its main text, 
but gives all important variants from other versions in 

The other monumental edition is that published in Brussels 
by Kervyn de Lettenhove, who edited the complete works of 
Froissart {CEuvres, 28 vols, 1867-77), i^ which the Chronicles^ 
with much valuable editorial matter, occupy the first twenty- 
five volumes. This edition has been criticized by some scholars 
in France as somewhat slipshod, but its great merit is that it 
contains the whole of the Chronicles in all the principal versions, 
in addition to a mass of pertinent information to be found 
nowhere else. 

Thirdly, there is J. A. C. Buchon: Chroniques (3 vols. 
Pantheon Litteraire, 1840), which contains a complete text, 
with some variants, in partly modernized spelling. Published 
before all the different Froissart manuscripts had been 
scientifically classified, it gives Book I in what is essentially the 
standard first version. While intended for a literate general 
public, as Froissart should be, it is a work of careful and 
devoted scholarship and its text is used in modern French 
partial editions, such as that of the Pleiade. 


On practical grounds Buchon's edition has been used as the 
basis of this translation. I have, however, made considerable 
use of the S.H.F. and K. de Lettenhove editions, consulting 
them in particular wherever Buchon's reading appeared 



dubious or unsatisfactory. This has provided a certain number 
of better readings and several interesting variants. In Book I, 
I have occasionally preferred the text of the second or third 
versions to that of the first, marking the fact in footnotes 
{Amiens AIS and Kome AIS). I have had occasional recourse to 
the early printed editions of the Chroniques in the British 
Museum (IB. 41229) and the Bibliotheque Nationale (Velin 
743-6). I have also consulted with much profit Professor A. H. 
Diverres's transcription of part of Book III from the Besan9on 
MS {yoyage en Beam, Manchester University Press, 1953). 

Whatever the aspirations of the great nineteenth-century 
scholar-editors, it seemed to be the main duty of a modern 
translator to present the most interesting and comprehensible 
version possible without blurring the essential distinctions 
drawn by rigorous scholarship. In aiming at this, I hope I 
have not been entirely unsuccessful. Froissart is a great and 
much-quoted writer who has suffered strangely from in- 

To make a selection covering less than one-sixth of the total 
length of the Chronicles was not the easiest part of the task. 
Froissart is sometimes repetitive, sometimes he describes at 
length military and other events which rate little space in the 
history-books. But over all, and more and more as his writing 
matures, he has a narrative stride and vigour which it seems a 
pity to interrupt. I have been obliged, however, to do so, 
maintaining coherence as far as possible by short editorial 

I have selected some of the traditional highlights - for 
English readers Sluys, Crecy, Calais, Poitiers are unexpendable 
- but have also tried to be as representative as possible of the 
different theatres of activity covered in the Chronicles and of 
Froissart's range as an observer and writer. Happenings in 
England and France and the wars between them occupy the 
chief place, as they did in the original, but something is pre- 
served of Froissart's many pages on Scotland, Flanders and 
Spain, and also on private life. More of these could have been 
translated without tiring the reader and I decided with par- 
ticular reluctance to omit altogether such curious chapters as 



those on Barbary and the Turks, marginal though they are to 
the Chronicles as a whole. I hope, however, that this selection 
has a certain coherence of its own, beginning as it does with 
the deposition of Edward II and ending, as it must, with the 
downfall of Richard II and the accession of Bolingbroke. 

Froissart is full of names - of people and places - a few of 
which seem impossible to identify. Apart from the known 
vagaries of fifteenth-century spelling, some of the scribes who 
produced the manuscripts, usually under dictation, were no 
better spellers than the rest of us, particularly of names foreign 
to them (e.g. 'Asquessufort' for 'Oxford'). Wherever they are 
recogni2able, I have printed the modern forms. The place- 
names (some of which have changed altogether since Frois- 
sart's day) are those given on a modern map. Personal names, 
when they appear in the works quoted, I have standardized 
thus : for England and Scotland, on the Dictionary of National 
Biography, for the Netherlands, on the Biographic Nationale de 
Belgique, for France, on the Dictionnaire de Biographic Franfaise as 
far as it extends {A to Drejfus only at this date) and, beyond 
that, on the best authorities available, including in particular 
Kervyn de Lettenhove. Inevitably a number of minor names 
must remain unidentified or uncertain. 

Another area of doubt concerns numerals. Froissart, or his 
scribes, often use precise numbers very loosely. Militiry 
historians, trying to assess the strength of armies in battles, 
will be sickeningly familiar with this feature. Sometimes the 
numbers are meant to be exact and perhaps they are. Some- 
times 'thirty thousand' or 'sixty thousand' are used con- 
ventionally for 'a great number'. They may have been further 
garbled by scribes who, using Roman numerals, miscounted 
the X's, or even the C's or the M's. Cognate with this is the 
computation of distances, which in general is reasonably 
accurate. Froissart's 'league' (on the Continent) I have con- 
sistently interpreted as three miles; his 'short league' or 
'English league' as one mile. Wherever possible, the distance 
has been checked, occasionally corrected, or discussed in a 
footnote. One cannot always guarantee accuracy. Blackheath, 
for example, mentioned in the chapter on the Peasants' Revolt, 



is about six miles in a straight line from London Bridge. I do 
not know whether, in saying 'about twelve miles', Froissart 
was making a generous approximation, or whether it was 
indeed that distance by some wandering road in the four- 
teenth century. 

These are puzzfing but relatively minor points. A larger one 
is that of the idiom to be used in a translation. In a sense, 
nearly every English phrase one writes in the twentieth 
century is anachronistic in that the same thing would not have 
been put in quite that way in the fourteenth century. There is 
no help for this, but I have tried to avoid some of the more 
blatant anachronisms by preserving a few teriiis which may 
strike the reader as archaic, but which have to be kept be- 
cause there is no satisfactory modern equivalent. Thus, 
'minstrelsy', 'joust' - the second because the more familiar 
'tilt' could not have been used by Froissart, since the tilt- 
barrier which supplied the word was not invented until the 
next century. For an explanation of such special terms, from 
'lance' to 'rounsey', the reader is referred to the Glossary on 
p. 473, which is designed to replace repetitive footnotes. 

The whole of Froissart has been translated twice, first in 
1525 by Lord Berners, whose work, undertaken at the com- 
mand of Henry VIII, remains as an admirable example of 
Tudor prose; secondly in 1805 by Thomas Johnes of Hafod, a 
wealthy connoisseur of Froissart who collected some of the 
manuscripts and also had the endurance to complete the entire 
work. His style, however, inclines to the false archaic and 
the over-genteel and is flat by both fourteenth-century and 
modern standards. I have tried to avoid at least those faults in 
the present translation, but have only once printed a six-letter 
word not specifically contained in the French, though I believe 
that the context justifies its use. 

G. B. 

January 196J 


This translation was originally commissioned by 
Dr E. V. Rieu, for whose encouragement and 
patience during several years of waiting I am more 
than grateful. ]More lately, as the translation neared 
completion, I have profited by the friendly counsels 
of Dr Robert Baldick, the present co-editor of the 
Penguin Classics. 

It is a pleasure to acknowledge the help of Pro- 
fessor Armel Diverres, who generously gave me 
his advice on certain specific points of interpreta- 
tion, and of Mr R. E. Oakeshott, who allowed me 
to draw on his expert knowledge of medieval 

Libraries are too often taken for granted. Al- 
though it may be true, on a long view, that without 
writers they would not exist, the great libraries re- 
pay their debt in full measure. I must therefore 
thank the authorities of the British Museum and the 
Bibliotheque Nationale for their unfailing kindness 
in making both printed books and manuscripts 
available to me; and the Librarians of Durham 
University, Nottingham University, and the City 
of Nottingham for lending me, through the 
National Central Library, valuable books which 
have greatly facilitated this work. 

The Qhronological background 

1307 England: Edward II (1307-27) succeeds Edward I. 

1309 Popes move from Rome to Avignon. 

1 3 14 France: Louis X (13 14-16) succeeds Philip IV. 

Scots defeat English at Bannockburn. 
1316 France: Philip V (1316-22). 


1322 France: Charles IV (1322-8). 

Thomas of Lancaster beheaded by Edward II. 

1323-6 Unrest in England, culminating in Queen Isabella's re- 

1327 England: Edward III (1327-77). 

1328 France: Philip VI of Valois (1328-50). 

Treaty of Northampton confirms Scotland's independ- 

1329 Scotland: Robert Bruce succeeded by David II (1329-71). 
1333-4 English defeat Scots at Halidon Hill. Franco-Scottish 

1337 Technical opening of Hundred Years War. 

1337-45 James van Artevelde dominates Ghent. 
1340 Battle of Sluys. 

1346 Battle of Crecy. 

Battle of Neville's Cross. David Bruce captured. 

1347 Fall of Calais. 
1348-50 Black Death. 

1350 France: John II (1350-64). 

Castile: Peter the Cruel (1350-69). 

Navarre: Charles the Bad (1350-87). 
1356 Battle of Poitiers. 

1356-8 Etienne Alarcel leads the Third Estate. 
1358 The Jacquerie. 

1360 Treaties of Bretigny and Calais between England and 




I ^6t-6 Lionel of Clarence attempts to reassert English authority 

in Ireland. 
1364 France: Charles V (1364-80), 

1369 Spain: Peter the Cruel defeated at Montiel by Henry of 
Trastamara (1369-79). 

1370 Direct fighting between England and France resumed. 
Du Guesclin appointed Constable of France. 

1371 Scotland: Robert II Stewart (1371-90) succeeds David II 

1377 England: Richard II (1377-99). 

1378 Beginning of papal Great Schism. 
1379-82 Philip van Artevelde dominates Ghent. 

1380 France: Charles VI (i 380-1422). 

Edmund Mortimer in Ireland secures submission of 

1 38 1 Peasants' Revolt in England. 

1382 Battle of Roosebeke. 

1385 Portuguese defeat Castilians at Aljubarrota. 

1386-8 Unrest in England. The Merciless Parliament. 

1388 Scots defeat English at Otterburn. 

1389 Turks defeat Serbs at Kossovo. 

1394-5 Richard II receives submission of Irish Kings. 
1396 Turks defeat Hungarians and French at Nicopolis. 

Richard II marries Isabella of France. Truce between 

France and England. 

1399 England: Henry IV (i 399-141 3) succeeds Richard II. 

1400 Death of Richard II. 


141 3 England: Henry V (1413-22). 

141 5 Battle of Agincourt. 




In order that the honourable enterprises, noble adventures 
and deeds of arms which took place during the wars waged by 
France and England should be fittingly related and preserved 
for posterity, so that brave men should be inspired thereby to 
follow such examples, I wish to place on record these matters 
of great renown. 

But first of all, I beseech the Saviour of the whole world, 
who from nothing created all things, to fill me with such 
excellent sense and understanding that I may continue this 
book which I have begun in such a way that all who see it, 
read it or hear it read may take delight and pleasure in it, and 
that I may earn their regard. 

It is said with truth that every building is constructed stone 
by stone and that all great rivers are made up from many 
springs and streams ; so knowledge is extracted and compiled 
by many learned men, and what one of them knows is un- 
known to another, though nothing is unknown if one seeks 
far enough. Therefore, to enter upon the subject which I have 
undertaken - first trusting in the grace of God and of the 
Blessed Virgin Mary from whom all consolation and advance- 
ment come - T _wi]1 b^e my work on the true chronicles 
formerly brought together by the w^se and venera ble Sir Jean 
Le Belf canon of St T.ambert of Liege, w ho took great pains 
over this matter and continued it during his whole life - and 
much did it cost him to obtain his material. But, whatever the 
expenses he incurred, he never regretted them. He was rich 
and powerful and could well support them; and then he was by 
nature a generous, honourable and chivalrous man, always 
ready to spend liis wealth. Also, he was in his lifetime an inti- 
mate friend of the most noble and mighty Lord John of 
Hainault, whose deeds are rightly commemorated in this 
book, for he was the mover and leader of a number of fine 
exploits and a near counsellor of kings. Because of this, Sir 



Jean Le Bel was able to witness or learn through him the truth 
of many of the incidents described in these pages. 

I can say with truth that I, who have undertaken to compose 
this book, have been led by a constant inclination to seek the 
company of various nobles and great lords, either in France 
or in England, in Scotland, Brittany and other countries, and 
have been acquainted with them. Thus, I have always made 
inquiries to the best of my ability about the exact course of the 
wars and other events which have occurred, particularly since 
the great battle of Poitiers, in which the noble King John of 
France was taken prisoner, for before then I was very young 
in years and understanding. Yet in spite of that I undertook, 
perhaps rather boldly, when just out of school, to rhyme and 
indite the wars just mentioned and to take the finished book 
with me to England.^ There I presented it to that most high 
and noble lady, Philippa of Hainault, who received it gladly 
and graciously and rewarded me well. 

Now perhaps that book was not thought out and composed 
as scrupulously as such a subject demands - for deeds of arms, 
in which distinction is so dearly bought, should be faithfully 
credited to those whose valour has achieved them. Therefore, 
to discharge my debt to all, as is only proper, I have under- 
taken the writing of this history according to the method and 
foundation already mentioned, at the request of one of my 
dear patrons and masters, Robert of Namur, Lord of Beau- 
fort, towards whom I gladly acknowledge my affection and 
allegiance. And may God assist me to write a work which 
will please him. 

I. For this early, lost, chronicle, see Introduction, p. 12. 


The "beginning of a "^R^gn 


Now first, as an introduction to the glorious and stirring 
story of the noble King Edward of England, who was 
crowned in London on Christmas Day, 1 326, in the lifetime of 
the BCing his father and his mother the Queen, one thing can 
be said: it is commonly believed amongst the English - and 
this has often been borne out since the time of good BCing 
Arthur - that in bet ween two brav e and warlike kings there 
has always reig ned one less gifted in body and mind. This is 
well illustrated by t he parentage of the King EdwarcTwhom 
I have just mentioned. His grandfather, Edward I, was a 
brave, wise and resourceful ruler, enterprising and very 
successful in war. He did much fighting against the Scots and 
overcame them three or four times. They were never able to 
beat him or stand up against him. But when he died he was 
succeeded by his son by his first marriage (the father of the 
noble King Edward) who was quite unlike him in wisdom and 
courage and governed his realm very harshly on the advice of 
others. This brought great misfortunes upon him, as you 
shall hear. Soon after he had been crowned, Robert Bruce, 
King of Scotland, who had given so much trouble to the 
gallant King Edward I, reconquered the whole of Scotland 
and the city of Berwick as well, twice burnt and ravaged a 
large part of England stretching as far as four or five days' ride 
beyond the border, and defeated this king and all the barons 
of England at a place in Scotland called Stirling.^ The pursuit 
of the fugitives went on for two days and nights, while the 
King of England fled back to London with a small remnant 
of his men. . . . 

This King Edward II governed his kingdom so badly and 

I. Battle of Bannockbum, 13 14. 

BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

did such foolish things in the country because he was advised 
by an evil counsellor called Sir Hugh Despenser, who had 
been brought up with him from youth. Sir Hugh had managed 
things so well that he and his father, of the same name, had 
become the richest barons in England and were always the 
chief masters of the King's council, ambitious to overtop the 
other great barons of the realm. This had disastrous conse- 
quences for themselves and the country. 

After the rout of Stirling there was great discontent among 
the English nobles and the King's council, directed in par- 
ticular against Hugh Despenser, who was held responsible 
for their defeat and suspected of favouring the King of Scot- 
land and encouraging the King of England to act negligently. 
The barons, of whom the greatest and most prominent was 
the King's cousin, Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, held several 
parliaments to discuss what they should do. Hugh Despenser 
became aware of this and of the complaints made about him 
and his actions. He was much afraid that he would come to 
harm and he at once devised a very foul plot to prevent it. 

Taking advantage of his nearness to the King, who placed 
more trust in his word alone than in that of all his other nobles 
together, Hugh Despenser told King Edward that the barons 
had formed an alliance against him and would remove him 
from the throne if he was not careful. Swayed by his subtle 
arguments, the King had all these barons seized at a parlia- 
ment at which they were assembled. Twenty-two of the 
greatest of them were beheaded, immediately and without 
trial. Foremost among them was Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, a 
good and saintly man, at the place of whose execution a 
number of miracles afterwards occurred. By this action, Hugh 
Despenser earned the hatred of the whole country, and especi- 
ally of the Queen and of the Earl of Kent, who was the King's 

When Hugh Despenser perceived that he was in disfavour 
with these two, he cunningly stirred up such discord between 
the King and Queen that the King refused either to receive 
the Queen or to visit her. This went on for some time, until 
the Queen and the Earl were secretly warned that some harm 



might soon befall them unless they took steps to protect them- 

According to Froissarfs account^ Q^een Isabella escaped secretly 
/g Fran ce with her son Edward^ the EarToJKent, and Roger Morti- 
mer. She qppeakdfor help to her brother^ Charles IV of France, but 
after receiving her sympathetically and preparing to support her, he. 
and his _ coun cil were bribed bj Hugh Despenser and turned against 
her. The Pope was then persuaded, by the intrigues of Despenser, to 
order the return of Isabella to her lawful husband, upon which s_he 
was banished Jrom France. Moving to Hainault {where the future 
BdwdfJlII was betrothed to the ruling Count's daughter, Philippa) 
she secured the support of John of Hainault, brother of the Count, 
who assembled a fighting force to accompany her and her son back to 
England, where they hoped to be joined by her partisans. Setting sail 
from Dordrecht, they were thrown off course by a storm, says Froissart, 
eventually landing on a deserted beach from which they moved inland to 
Bury St Edmunds. 

News of their arrival spread through the country, until it 
reached those on whose invitation and promise of support 
the Queen had returned. These hastened to join her son, 
whom they wanted to have as their sovereign. The first of 
them, whose coming brought most reassurance to the prince's 
party, was Henry Earl of Lancaster, known as Wryneck, 
brother of the Thomas of Lancaster who had been beheaded 
and father of that Duke of Lancaster who was to become 
such a great and famous soldier, as you will hear later in these 
chronicles. Henry of Lancaster came with a powerful force of 
fighting men, and after him so many others, earls, barons, 
knights and squires, also accompanied by men-at-arms, that 
they now felt themselves out of all danger. Each day as they 
moved forward more men joined them. A council was held 
at which it was decided that they would lead their army 
straight to Bristol, a large, prosperous town and seaport, 
with good fortifications. It also had a strong castle, built 
above the sea which surrounds it. This was where the King 
was, with Hugh Despenser the elder, who was about ninety 
years of age, Hugh Despenser the younger, the King's evil 
counsellor, the Earl of Arundel, who had married the younger 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

Despenser's daughter, and a number of knights and squires 
who had followed the King as court-knights usually do. 

The Queen and her whole company, with Sir John of 
Hainault and the English earls and barons and their men, 
advanced towards them by the shortest road. They were 
acclaimed in every town through which they passed and 
people continued to join them from all sides until they reached 
Bristol and laid siege to it in full military form. The King 
and the younger Despenser had chosen to remain in the castle; 
the elder Despenser and the Earl of Arundel, with a number of 
their supporters, were in the town. 

The citizens of Bristol soon opened their gates to the Queen and 
handed over Arundel and the elder Despenser to be dealt with ^ in 
whatever way she chose \ The two were indicted before an assembly of 
barons and sentenced to be drawn, beheaded and their bodies hanged. 
The execution took place outside the castle, in full view of the King 
and the younger Despenser.^ 

After this act of justice, the King and the younger Despen- 
ser, finding themselves so closely besieged, with no hope of 
relief from any quarter, embarked one morning behind the 
castle in a small boat with a few followers. Their plan was to 
escape to Wales if they could, but their sins weighed so heavily 
upon them that God would not permit it. An astonishing 
thing befell them, which caused them to remain for eleven 
whole days in that small boat. Though they made every effort 
to sail forward, they could never get so far but that a contrary 
wind drove them back once or twice daily to within less than 
a mile of the castle. Finally Sir Henry de Beaumont, son of the 
Viscount of Beaumont in England, boarded a barge with a 
few companions and went out towards them. They rowed so 

I. This is inexact on several counts. Though the elder Despenser was 
executed at Bristol (27 October), Arundel was not caught and executed un- 
til later. The King and the younger Despenser had left Bristol before it sur- 
rendered to the Queen, and crossed the Severn to Chepstow. Storms pre- 
vented them from escaping from there by sea and they travelled overland 
to Glamorgan. Lancaster captured them at Neath Abbey on 16 November. 
The description which follows of their capture by Henry de Beaumont is 
therefore unhistorical. It may be read as an imaginative compression of a 
more complicated story. 



fast and so strongly that the King's seamen could not escape 
them. Their boat was taken and those in it were brought back 
to Bristol and delivered up as prisoners to the Queen and her 
son, who were overjoyed by their capture. So were all the 
others, with good reason, for with God's help they had 
accomplished their desire in exactly the way they had hoped. 

Thus the Queen reconquered the realm of England for her 
eldest son, with the guidance and support of Sir John of 
Hainault and his company. For this the Hainaulters were 
hailed as very gallant knights, who had carried out a famous 
enterprise. When they set sail from Dordrecht they had been 
only three hundred men-at-arms, yet for love of the Queen 
they had ventured across the sea in such small numbers for 
the conquest of a country such as England, in the teeth of the 
King himself and all his partisans. ... 

After the King and Sir Hugh Despenser had been brought 
back to Bristol by Henry de Beaumont, the King was sent, 
on the advice of all the barons and knights, to Berkeley Castle 
on the Severn. I The keeper of Berkeley was urged to take 
good care of him, with orders to give him all honourable 
service and attention and to place court officials round him 
who were familiar with their duties, but never to allow him to 
leave the castle precincts. Hugh Despenser was handed over 
to Lord Thomas Wake, Marshal of the army. When the 
Queen set out with her army for London, Lord Thomas had 
Hugh Despenser tightly bound to the smallest, thinnest and 
most weakly horse he could find, dressed him in a tunic 
blazoned with the arms he usually bore and led him in derision 

I. Froissart's only mention of Edward II's death is in his last version of 
Book I (Rome MS) : '. . . After the King had arrived at Berkeley, he did 
not Hve very long. And how should he have lived, when things were as I 
will tell you? For I, Jean Froissart, author of this chronicle, was at Berke- 
ley Castle in September 1366 in the company of Edward Lord Despenser, 
the grandson of that Hugh Despenser of whom I will say more in a 
moment. We spent three days either in the castle or in amusements in the 
neighbourhood. In order to confirm my chronicle, I inquired about that 
king, asking what had become of him. An old squire told me that in the 
same year in which he was taken there he died, for they shortened his life 
for him. So ended that King of England and we shall speak no more of 
him . . .'. 


BOOK ONE (l^ZZ--Jj) 

to the sound of horns and trumpets through all the towns 
through which the Queen passed until they reached the city 
of Hereford. Here she celebrated the Feast of All Saints in 
great splendour for the sake of her son and the foreign nobles 
who were with him. 

After the feast this same Sir_Hu£h, who was not loved in 
those parts, was brought before the Queen and the -assembled 
nobles. All his deeds had been written down and were now 
read out to him, but he said nothing in reply. He }iMkS con^ 
demned by the unanimous verdict of the barons and knights 
jto suffeFthe following punishment. First, hewas^£agged_onj^ 
hurdle through alL the streets of Hereford, to the sound of 
horns and trumpets, until he reached the main square of the 
town, where all the people were assembled. There he was 
tied to^a long ladder, so that everyone could see him. A big 
fire had been lit in the square. When he had been tied up, hi^ 
member and his testicles were first cut off, because he was_a 
jieretii Land a sodomite, even, it was said, with the King, and 
this was why the King had driven away the Queen on his 
suggestion. When his private parts had been cut off they 
were tji rown into the fire to burn, and afterwards his heart 
was torn from Tiis FoHy and thrown into the fire, because he 
was a false-hearted traitor, who by his treasonable advice 
and promptings had led the King to bring shame and mis- 
fortune upon his kingdom and to behead the greatest lords of 
England, by whom the kingdom ought to have been upheld 
and defended; and besides that, he had so worked upon the 
King that he, who should have been their consort and sire, 
had refused to see the Queen and his eldest son, but rather had 
expelled them from the realm of England, at the hazard of 
their lives. 

After Sir Hugh Despenser had been cut up in the way de- 
scribed, his head was struck off and sent to the city of London. 
HisJ:>Dd^lw.a^j^videdjntoJo^ were sent to' 

the foui Lprincipa l cities of England after London. 

The Queen and ^r son proceeded to l^ondon, where they were met 
hy rejoicing crowds. The majority of the Hainaulters returned home^ 
after being suitably rewarded, though Sir John of Hainault was per- 



suaded to remain at court for a time with a few companions. The 
'English nobles also dispersed temporarily, under promise to return 
at Christmas. 

When Christmas came the Queen held a great court, at- 
tended by all the earls, barons, knights and nobles of England, 
the prelates, and the councils of the towns. At this festivity 
and assembly it was decided - since the country could not long 
remain without a sovereign - to put down in writing all 
those things which the King, then in prison, had done under 
the influence of evil counsellors, all his habits and evil be- 
haviour, and the way he had governed the country : to the end 
that it should be read out in open court before all the people, 
and that the wise men of the country should be enabled to 
reach an agreement upon how and by whom the realm should 
be governed in the future. When this had been done, and all 
the measures which the King had taken or authorized, to- 
gether with his habitual conduct, had been published for all 
to hear, the barons and knights and the whole council of the 
realm went into consultation. They concluded by a large 
majority, both from what had been read out and from their 
own knowledge of the facts, that such a man was in no way 
worthy to wear a crown or to be called king. They further 
agreed that his eldest son, who was present among them and 
was the direct heir, should be crowned at once in his father's 
place, adding that he should be surrounded by wise and loyal 
counsellors to ensure that henceforth the realm should be 
better governed than in the past. The father was to be well 
guarded and honourably maintained in accordance with his 
rank for as long as he should Hve. 

As a result of jLhi^.^ci sion, the young King Edward^ who 
was to be so successful in war, was crowned king in JJie Palace 
ofWestminster on Christmas Day, 1326. He would then be 
about sixteen.^ 

I. Edward III was crowned on i February- 1327, at the age of fifteen. 
The events described in the last two paragraphs occurred in fact in January- 
1327 (N.S.). 


The Scots Invade Gngland {i^2.j) 

Now it happened that Robert King of Scotland, a great soldier 
who had suffered much from the English and had known many 
defeats in the time of Edward I, the young King Edward's 
grandfather, had g rown old and was aflflicte d with leprosy , of 
which he was expected to die. When he heard of the events in 
England, the capture and deposition of its king and the execu- 
tion of his counsellors, he deciiledJXLsend a challenge to the 
young sovereign. Since the latter was so young and the Eng- 
lish barons were at loggerheads (for so he thought, or perhaps 
had been given to understand by some of the Despensers' fac- 
tion), i t seemed a good opportu nity to conquer a part of Eng- 
J^^' Towards Easter 1327, therefore, he issued a challenge to 
the young King Edward and the whole of England, threaten- 
ing to invade their country and ravage and burn it as far south- 
wards as he had done previously when he had inflicted such a 
crushing defeat on them at Stirling Castle. 

To meet this threat, "Edward leads an army north. He is joined by a 
force of the faithful Hainaulters, ivho have again been called upon for 
aid, A.mong them is Jean Le Bel, author of the chronicle on which 
this part of the Froissart is closely based. At York, fighting breaks 
out between the Hainaulters and the English archers, but eventually 
the whole army moves on past Durham and enters Northumberland, 
ivhich the Scots are already ravaging. 

The Scots are a bold, hardy people, very experienced in war. 
At that time they had little love or respect for the English, 
and the same is true today. When they cross the border they 
advance sixty to seventy miles in a day and night, which 
would seem astonishing to anyone ignorant of their customs. 
The explanation is that, on their expeditions into England, they 
all come on horseback, except the irregulars who follow on 
foot. The knights and squires are mounted on fine, strong 
horses and the commoners on small ponies. Because they have 
to pass over the wild hills of Northumberland, they bring no 



baggage-carts and so carry no supplies of bread or wine. So 
frugal are they that their practice in war is to subsist for a long 
time on underdone meat, without bread, and to drink river- 
water, without wine. This does away with the need for pots 
and pans, for they cook their meat in the hides of the cattle 
it is taken from, after skinning. Since they are sure to find 
plenty of cattle in the country they pass through, the only 
things they take with them are a large flat stone placed be- 
tween the saddle and the saddle-cloth and a bag of oatmeal 
strapped behind. When they have lived so long on half- 
cooked meat that their stomachs feel weak and hollow, they 
lay these stones on a fire and, mixing a little of their oatmeal 
with water, they sprinkle the thin paste on the hot stone and 
make a small cake, rather like a wafer, which they eat to help 
their digestion. Hence it is not surprising that they can travel 
faster than other armies. 

So the Scots had entered Northumberland. They ravaged 
and burnt it, finding more livestock than they knew what to 
do with. They were at least three thousand men in armour, 
knights and squires, mounted on good rounseys and coursers, 
and twenty thousand other brave and warlike men,- armed 
each in his own fashion and riding those little ponies which 
they neither groom nor tether, but turn loose to graze freely 
wherever they dismount. 

Their king, Robert Bruce, being too old and ill to go with 
them, had appointed as their leaders the Earl of Moray, whose 
arms were argent three oreillers gules, and Sir James Douglas, 
who bore for arms a shield azure on a chief argent three mul- 
lets gules. These two were the highest and most powerful 
lords of the kingdom of Scotland and the most famous for 
their feats of arms and great exploits. 

When the English army saw the smoke of the burning 
villages, they knew that the Scots had entered their country. 
The alert was at once sounded and the order given to leave 
quarters and follow the banners. They all moved out into the 
country, armed and ready for immediate battle. They were 
formed into three large bodies of foot-soldiers, each with two 
wings consisting, of five hundred men in armour who were 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

to remain mounted. It was said that there were at least eight 
thousand knights and squires and thirty thousand other 
armed men, of whom half was mounted on small horses and 
the other half were foot-sergeants and light infantry. These 
had been raised and were paid by the loyal towns, each town 
contributing according to its rating. There were also a good 
twenty-four thousand foot-archers, without counting the 

Battle is not joined because the Scots slip aw aj. The 'Pfj^Jish 
follow air day, guJcled l?j the smoke of the fires, but are unable to con- 
tact the enemy. Concluding that they will eventually be obliged to re- ■ 
cross the 'iyne~if they are not to remain trapped in "England, they set 
out for that river next day in the hope of cutting them off. ¥ or faster 
movement, the supply-train has been left behind near Durham, but each 
man carries a loaf of bread behind his saddle in the Scottish fashion. 

Before the battalions had been formed up in order, day had 
begun to break. They began to move forward very raggedly 
over heaths, hills and valleys and through difficult woodland, 
without a trace of level country. Among the mountains and 
valleys were great marshes and bogs which were so dangerous 
to cross that it was surprising that more men were not lost 
in them. For each man rode steadily forward, without waiting 
for his captain or his companions, and anyone who got stuck 
in those bogs would have been lucky to find help. Indeed, a 
large number of banners with the horses, as well as many pack- 
animals, did get left in them, never to be seen again. 

Throughout the day there were many alerts, which made it 
appear that the foremost were engaging the enemy. Those 
behind urged on their horses over swamps and rocky ground, 
up hill and down dale, with their helmets on and their shields 
slung, their swords or lances in their hands, without waiting 
for father, brother or comrade. But when they had galloped 
a mile or so and reached the place from which the sounds 
came, they found that it was a false alarm. The cause was the 
herds of deer, or other animals, which abound on the moors of 
that wild country and which fled in panic before the banners 
and the advancing horsemen. These hulloa'd after them and 
their shouts were mistaken for battle-cries. 



Young King Edward and his army rode all that day over 
those hills and desolate heaths, finding no towns, and follow- 
ing no road, with only the sun to guide them over those 
trackless wastes. By late afternoon they had reached the Tyne, 
which the Scots had crossed and would have to re-cross, or so 
the English supposed. Exhausted by the day's journey, they 
forded it with much difficulty because of the great stones 
which lay in it. When they gained the other side, each chose a 
piece of ground along the bank on which to spend the night, 
but before they had all found a pitch the sun was setting. Few 
of them had axes or any other tools to cut wood and build 
shelters and many had lost touch with their companions and 
had no idea where they were. The foot-soldiers in particular 
had been left far behind - though where they did not know nor 
how to get news of them - and all this filled them with anxiety. 
Some who claimed to know the country well said that they had 
covered twenty-eight miles in the day, riding hard as I have 
described, with no halts except to piss or retighten their 
horses' girths. Mounts and riders were tired out, yet the men 
had to sleep in full armour, holding their horses by the bridles 
since they had nothing to tie them to, having left their equip- 
ment in the carts which could not follow them over such 
country. For the same reason there were no oats or other 
fodder to give the horses and they themselves had nothing to 
eat all that day and night except the loaves which they had 
tied behind their saddles, and these were all soiled and sodden 
with the horses' sweat. They had nothing to drink but the 
water of the river, except for some of the commanders who 
had brought bottles of wine, which were a great comfort to 
them. They had no Hghts or fires and no means of kindling 
them, except that some knights could burn torches, having 
brought them on their pack-animals. 

Having passed the night thus miserably, without taking off 
their armour or unsaddling their horses, they hoped for better 
things when day dawned. But as they were looking round for 
some prospect of food and shelter and for traces of the Scots, 
whom they eagerly wanted to fight in order to put an end to 
their own hardships, it began to rain. It continued so heavily 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

and steadily all day that by noon already the river near which 
they were was too swollen to be re-crossed. No one could be 
sent to discover where they were or to find forage and bed- 
ding for their horses or bread, wine and other things for them- 
selves. They had to fast all that day as well, while the horses 
ate earth, or heather, or moss or leaves. They cut down 
saplings with their swords to make stakes to tether them to, 
and also to build shelters for themselves. 

Towards noon the next day some peasants were found. 
These told them that they were about forty-two miles from 
Newcastle and about thirty-three from Carlisle.' There were 
no nearer towns in which they could get provisions. The King 
and his commanders being informed of this, each sent out 
messengers with ponies and packhorses to fetch supplies. The 
King also sent a proclamation to the town of Newcastle say- 
ing that anyone who wanted to make money should bring out 
bread, wine, oats, poultry, cheese, eggs and other produce 
and he would be paid on the nail and given a safe-conduct as 
far as the army. It was also made known that they would not 
leave the district until they knew where the Scots had gone to. 

Towards the middle of the next day the messengers re- 
turned, bringing what they could carry in the way of pro- 
visions. It was not much. With them came traders, driving 
small horses and little mules loaded with baskets of badly 
baked bread, large barrels of thin wine and other saleable 
goods, with which the army had to be satisfied. This was re- 
peated each day during the rest of the week they remained by 
the river, among those mountains, awaiting the arrival of the 
Scots, who did not know the whereabouts of the English 
any more than the English knew theirs. In this way they had 
gone three days and nights without food, wine, fodder, 
candles and everything else; and in the next four days they 
were obliged to pay six pence for badly baked loaves worth 

I. The original has ' 14 leagues' and * 1 1 leagues'. No point on the Tyne 
exactly meets these requirements, but assuming they had really covered 
28 miles ('English leagues') as the crow flies on the previous day, as noted 
above, their approximate position must have been near Hexham. They 
would thus be nearer to Newcastle than to Carlisle, and this seems sup- 
ported by the fact that they went to Newcastle for provisions. 



only a halfpenny, and twenty-four pence for a gallon of wine 
which should have cost only six.^ Some were so famished that 
they snatched the food from their comrades' hands, which 
gave rise to serious brawls among the men. As an added 
misery, it never stopped raining the whole week and conse- 
quently their saddles, saddle-clothes and girths became sodden 
and most of the horses developed sores on their backs. They 
had nothing to cover them with, except their own surcoats, 
and no means of re-shoeing the horses which needed it. They 
themselves had nothing to keep out the wet and the cold 
except their tunics and their armour, and nothing to make 
fires with except green wood, which will not stay alight under 

The Ejjglish commanders decide to move and the army is led hack 

across the river at a different point. After several days the Scots are 

found in an unassailable position on the slopes above another river. 

The English establish themselves on their side of it and the two armies 

remain deadlocked. 

They remained like that for three days, with the Scots on 
their mountain-slope opposite. There were, however, skir- 
mishes every day, in which men were killed and prisoners 
taken. At nightfall the Scots always lit great fires and raised 
such a din by blowing on their horns and whooping in chorus 
that it sounded to the English as though all the devils in hell 
had been let loose. The intention of the English leaders, since 
t hey could not properly fight the Scots, was to keep them 
p^neddggm. the re and s tarve them out. They had learnt from 
prisoners that the Scots had no supplies of bread, wine or salt, 
though they had plenty of captured livestock. They could eat 
this boiled or roasted as they liked, without bread, as long 
as they had a little of the meal which they carry, as I described 
above. Some of the English do the same, when they go on 
long rides and it suits them. 

I. The word translated zs pence in each case is esirelins (probably: id. 
sterling) and as a halfpenny is par isis (probably : i sol parisis), but since there 
is some uncertainty about the interpretation, this cannot be taken as a 
precise guide to prices. There are also minor variants among the manu- 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

On the morning of the fourth day after the English had 
arrived there, they looked at the slopes which the Scots had 
been holding and, to their great surprise, saw no one there; 
the Scots had slipped away in the night. Unable to guess 
where they had gone, they sent out scouts on horse and on 
foot, who found them that same morning on a still stronger 
hill situated near the same river. They had taken up positions 
in a wood, in order to be in shelter and to be able to come and 
go in greater secrecy. 

The English follow the enemy and post themselves on another slope 
opposite, with the river still between. As before, the terrain is too 
unfavourable for a regular attack. 

The first night that the English spent on this second hill. 
Sir James Douglas, who was a grand fighter and a daring 
leader, assembled some two hundred men in armour and led 
them across the river at a point far enough away from the 
army not to be noticed. He spurred into the English most 
gallantly, shouting * Douglas! Douglas! Die, you English 
thieves ! ' He and his company killed more than three hundred 
in all. He spurred as far as the very tent of the King, still 
whooping and shouting : ' Douglas ! ' and cut two or three of 
the tent-cords before galloping away. He may well have lost a 
few men as he withdrew, but they were not many. 

There were no more actions of this kind, but after that the 
English sent out strong patrols and established sentry-points 
and listening-posts, with orders to alert the army at the least 
sign or sound of movement. Most of the knights slept in 
their armour. Every day there were minor skirmishes, in 
which any who liked to took part. There were killed and 
wounded on both sides, as well as numerous prisoners. 

On their twenty-second and last day in the field, the English 
captured a Scottish knight from whom they tried to find out 
his leaders' plans. He was questioned and interrogated until he 
told them, very unwillingly, that it had been decided that 
morning that all were to be armed by the evening in readiness 
to follow the banner of Sir James Douglas, wherever he might 
lead them, but that this was to be kept secret. Exactly w^hat 
was in his leaders' minds the knight did not know. 



The Ejiglish interpret this as a preparation for a full-scale night 
attack upon them, and make their dispositions accordingly. But in 
the morning they find that the Scots have gone, this time finally. 
The English army stands down. 

Upon this, some of the English got on their horses and 
crossed the river at great risk and went up the hill which the 
Scots had abandoned.^ There they found the carcasses of five 
hundred fat cattle, which the Scots had killed because they 
were too heavy to run with them and they did not want to 
leave them alive for the English. Besides these they found over 
four hundred leather cauldrons, with the hair still on the 
hides, filled with meat and water, ready to be boiled over the 
fires; a thousand spits loaded with flesh for roasting; and 
more than five thousand worn-out shoes, made of untanned 
leather with the hair still on it, which the Scots had left 
behind. They also came upon five poor English prisoners 
whom the Scots had bound naked to the trees out of sheer 
spite, and two whose legs had been broken. They untied 
them and let them go and then went back to the army, which 
was just striking camp and getting ready for the return to 

All that day they followed the unfurled banners of the mar- 
shals, halting at a late hour in some good pasture-land where 
they found badly needed fodder for their horses, which were 
so weak and hungry that they could hardly go farther. The 
next night they halted near an abbey some five miles from the 
city of Durham. The King took up his quarters in the great 
courtyard of the abbey, and the army in the meadows below. 
Here again there was plenty of forage, grass, vetches and 
corn. The army rested there quietly on the following day, 
while the King and his nobles went to Durham cathedral, 
where the bishop and chapter and also the citizens took their 
oath of fealty to him, since they had not done so before. In 

I . Cf. Le Bel, Chronique : ' Immediately some of the companions, and I 
with them, mounted our horses and crossed the river . . .' His account of 
the Scots' leaving is almost identical to that given in Froissart, except 
that he or his copyist speaks of 10,000 old shoes'. He adds that they were 
unable to talk to the English prisoners whom they found, so implying that 
the whole of his party were Hainaulters. 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

the city they found their carts and carters with all the equip- 
ment which they had left in a neighbouring wood twenty- 
seven days previously. Finding them there, the citizens had 
taken them into the town at their own expense and put them 
in empty barns, each cart with its pennant to mark the owner. 
The nobles were highly pleased to recover their wagons and 
their gear. They rested for two days in the town with the army 
round it, since there was not room for them all to be quartered 
inside. The horses were re-shod and they then set out for 

The inconclusive campaign ivas a greater setback for the English 
than this account suggests. The Treaty of Northampton in thefollow- 
ingjear conceded all the ScotHsfrdeJfiands 'including the recognition of 
Robert Bruce as King of an independent Scotland. At this price 
pen^e was established for a few years. 


6dward III "Does Homage to T?hilip VI (ipp) 

Ix IJ2S, the J ear after Edward IIFs accession, Philip VI of Valois 
succeeded to the Trench throne. He required Edward to do homage for 
the Duchy of Guienne or Aquitaine, which the English kings had 
held almost continuously since 11 j 2 as a fief under the French crown. 
Edward crossed to France. 

It is hardly necessary to say that King PhiHp received the 
young King of England with all honour and dignity, and so 
did all the kings, ^ dukes and counts who were present there. 
All these great lords were assembled at Amiens, and there 
remained for a fortnight. Many discussions were held and 
arrangements proposed and I believe that BCing Edward 
paid homage with words and a kiss only, without putting his 
hands between the hands of the King of France, or of any 
other prince or prelate delegated by him. The King of 
England refused on that occasion, on the advice he was given, 
to proceed further with his homage without first returning to 
England to see and study the earlier charters which would 
throw light on the matter and show how and in what respect 
the King of England should declare himself the man of the 
King of France. 

The King of France, seeing that his cousin the King of 
England was young, understood this reasoning perfectly 
and did not try to press him then. He knew quite well that he 
could repair the omission when he wanted to, and said: 
' Cousin, we do not wish to mislead you and we are quite satis- 
fied with what you have done now, until such time as you are 
in your country and have seen, from the documents signed by 
your predecessors, what it is you ought to do.' 

The King of England and his counsellors replied: 'Dear 
lord, many thanks.' 

I. Of Bohemia, Navarre and Majorca. 

BOOK ONE (1322-77) 
.n.^rk hi EmlcinA^aks ^ are lon2 deliberations until, convinced bj^ 

Ponthieu and Montreuil. 


Preliminaries of the Hundred Years War 

During the next few years, Edward grows rapidly in resolution and 
experience. The older generation are shaken off: his mother is * retired^ 
to pleasant country castles, her lover Mortimer executed with the same 
barbarity as the Younger Despenser. Edward's early marrin^p. tn 
Philippa of Hainault prospers a nd hp.oim p^QdlV'^'^j rhiUr^^ New, 
successful campaigns are undertaken against the Scots, with the result 
that their young King David Bruce takes refuge temporarily in E ranee 
and a Franco-Scottish alliance is concluded. Edward has natural allies 
in the Low Countries - his father-in-law the Count of Hainault, the 
Duke of Brabant and the Count of Gelderland - with whom he begins 
negotiations. The Count of Flanders is loyal to Philip of France, but 
his subjects, led by the Ghent burgher James van Artevelde, revolt 
and virtually dispossess him. The Flemish burghers are pro-Enplish^. 
partly because of their depet idfu^^ on '?^^^^ i*npnffe f^r,**, 'P*,gl^*,A 
Matters come to a head in the autumn of i^^y, after the return from 
Valenciennes of an English mission which has tried vainly to open 
negotiations with the French. 

At Michaelmas a great parliament was held at Westminster, 
outside London, which lasted three weeks. At it were all the 
greatest and wisest in England, prelates, earls, barons, knights 
and the councillors of the large towns. The two bishops of 
Lincoln and Durham and those barons and others who had 
been at Valenciennes made a report to the King on what they 
had done, waiting for the French delegation which never 
came. When the bishops had had their say, the King rose to 
his feet and asked to be advised as best befitted his honour and 
that of his kingdom. Those who were esteerped the wisest 
made reply that, after consideration of the requests, the pro- 
posals, the offers, the accommodations, the negotiations and 
the conversations which the King had suggested or put for- 
ward, and of which the French had taken no account, he could 
not delay revoking his homage to the King of Fran^ and 
making a declaration of war on him and all his adherents. This 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

advice was approved and adopted and the Bishop of Lincoln 
was asked to go over to France with the declaration. At the 
request and on the instructions of the King and the lords in 
council, he readily agreed to do so. 

It was further decided that, to assist the King to raise funds 
for his military expenses, a double tax should be imposed on 
each sack of wool for as long a period as the war lasted. Con- 
sideration was then given to the sum by which the King's 
share should be increased. Six burgesses, two from London, 
two from York and two from Coventry, proposed that his 
share of this duty should be raised by three hundred thousand 
nobles a year and that they would pay him in all six hundred 
thousand nobles yearly in three instalments. 

It was next proposed and decreed that no one in the realm of 
England, on pain of decapitation, should practise any game or 
sport other than that of shooting with bow and arrows, and 
that all craftsmen making bows and arrows should be ex- 
empted from all debts. 

It was also decreed that every knight, squire and fighting- 
man serving the King in his war should draw the King's pay 
but that each should maintain himself according to his stand- 
ing for half the year out of his own funds, any prisoner or 
other war-gains which he might make remaining with him for 
his personal profit. 

It was also decreed that in the coastal areas and islands, such 
as Cornwall, Guernsey, Wight, Hampshire and Sheppey, no 
men-at-arms or defence personnel should be moved away, 
regardless of any levy called by the King, but should guard 
their coasts and borders and should train their children in 
the use of arms and archery, in return for twopence each 
a day drawn from the duties on the wool within their 

It was also ordained and decreed that every lord, baron, 
knight and honest citizen of the larger towns should make 
every effort to i nstruct their children in the French language, 
ip nrd er that they should be more efficient and teei r ppria-^u; 
home in the wars. 

It was further ordained that no horse was to be shipped 



overseas from any part of England without the Chancellor's 
permission, on pain of incurring the King's displeasure. 

It was also decided to send men-at-arms and archers to the 
Island of Cadsant ^ to fight the Flemings who were garrison- 
ing it on behalf of the Count of Flanders. . . . 

The parliament also ordained and confirmed the marriage 
of Sir William Montagu, who had loyally served the King in 
the Scottish wars. . . . To reward him for his services, the 
King gave him the young Countess of^ Salisbury, Madame 
Alys, whose estate he held in wardship. She was one of the 
most beautiful young ladies in the land.^ 

As agreed in parliament, the Bishop of L,incoln goes to France to 
deliver the ' challenge ' to Philip, arriving in Paris at the beginning of 
November. He hands the parchment documents to the French King. 

The King looked at them for a short time and then gave 
them to one of his secretaries to read out. Their content was 
as follows, or nearly so, as I have heard since from people who 
were in a position to know, and particularly the Lord of Saint- 
Venant, who was present. 

' Edward,- by the grace of God King of England and Ire- 
land, writes to Philip of Valois : Since it falls out that, in suc- 
cession to our beloved uncle the Lord Charles, King of 
France, we are heir to the realm and crown of France by a 
much closer degree of kinship than yourself, who have 
entered into possession of our heritage and are holding and 
desire to hold it by force, although we have several times 
pointed this out to you and have had it again pointed out by 
such w^orthy and eminent advisers as those of the Church and 
the Holy College of Rome, in agreement with the noble 
Emperor, head of all adjudications; to which matters and de- 
mands you have never been willing to listen, but have held 
and still hold to your unjustly founded opinion. Wherefore 
we give you notice that we shall claim and conquer our 
heritage of France by the armed force of us and ours, and from 
this day forward we and ours challenge you and yours, and we 

1 . An island at the mouth of the Scheldt, from which sea communica- 
tions between England and the Low Countries were threatened. 

2. From the Amiens MS. 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

rescind the pledge and homage which we gave you without 
good grounds; and we now place our domain of Ponthieu, 
together with our other heritage, under the protection of God, 
not under yours, since we consider you as our enemy and 
adversary. Given in our palace of Westminster, in the presence 
of our whole council, the nineteenth day of October.' 

When King Philip had heard this letter read, he turned to- 
wards the Bishop of Lincoln and he did not seem to be greatly 
impressed, but began to smile and said: * Bishop, you have dis- 
charged your mission admirably. This letter does not require 
an answer. You are at liberty to leave when you wish.' 
* Sire,' replied the Bishop, ' I thank you.' He took his leave and 
went back to his lodging, where he remained all day. In the 
evening the King sent a safe-conduct for him and his fol- 
lowers, with which he travelled back across France un- 
molested. Returning to England, he reported on what he had 
done to the King and his barons. The English were highly 
pleased by it.^ 

Almost immediately an 'English landing-force takes the Island of 
Cadsant, so removing one threat to commimications with ¥ landers^ hut 
there is no fighting of any importance. In the summer of i^j8 
Edward crosses to Antwerp with Queen Philippa and makes still 
inconclusive attempts to persuade his prospective allies to commit 
themselves to war ivith ¥ ranee. He is hack there again in i^^9^ no.P 
with a si^eahle armj^ and this time most of the Netherlands^ lords 
and certain German princes who are involved agree to send declara- 
tions of war to Philip. It is again the Bishop of L.incoln who takes 
them to Paris, together with a renewed ' challenge ' from Edward. 
This, rather than the earlier '' challenge \ marks the effective opening 
of hostilities. Towns in French territory are attacked, while a French 
army, led hy Philip's eldest son, the Duke of Normandy, marches to 
confront Edward, though there is no hat tie. At sea, the Norman and 
other freebooters, who have already been harassing the English coasts 
and attacking shipping, carry out a large-scale raid. 

As soon as Sir Hugh Kieret and his companions on the seas 
heard that the challenges had been sent and war had opened 
between France and England, they were jubilant. They set 
I. From the Amiens MS. 


out with their fleet, which carried at least a thousand fighting- 
men of various kinds, and sailed for England, coming into 
Southampton ^ harbour one Sunday morning when the people 
were at mass. The Normans and Genoese entered the town 
and pillaged and looted it completely. They killed many 
people and raped a number of women and girls, which was a 
deplorable thing. They loaded their ships and vessels with the 
great plunder they found in the town, which was rich and 
well stocked, and then went back on board. When the tide was 
high again, they raised anchor and sailed with a good wind to- 
wards Normandy, putting in at Dieppe, where they shared 
out their booty. 

In I J 40 the fighting on land is intensified. William II, the neiv 
Count of Hainault, adds his declaration of war to the others and 
marches against the Duke of Normandy. Outside the besieged town of 
Thun-PEveque, near Cambrai, he is joined bj a strong force of 
Flemings under the burghers^ leader James van Artevelde. Mean- 
while, Edward has adopted the title and arms of King of France - 
rather unwillingly, says Froissart, and pushed bj van Artevelde, who 
insists on that condition. He installs his queen Philippa at Ghent, 
probably as a guarantee that he ivill not desert his allies, and returns 
briefly to England to attend to affairs of state. New complaints are 
made to him of the depredations of the Norman freebooters in the 
Channel and against the coastal towns. In June, he is ready to return. 

I. Akhough, following all precedents, I have consistently rendered 
Froissart's Hantome as ' Southampton' (or occasionally 'Hampshire'), it is 
virtually certain that in several passages it should be 'Portsmouth' or 
' Portchester'. Here, for instance, a surprise attack up Southampton Water 
seems hardly possible. 


battle of Sluys (1^40) 

The King of England put to sea with the intention of reach- 
ing Flanders and from there going to Hainault to aid his 
brother-in-law, the Count of Hainault, in his war against the 
French. On 22 June 1540, he set sail from the Thames 
Estuary with a large fleet of fine ships and steered straight 
towards Sluys. At the same time there lay between Blanken- 
berghe and Sluys a fleet commanded by Sir Hugh Kieret, Sir 
Peter Behuchet and Barbavara. It was made up of close on 
a hundred and fifty big ships, without counting the barges, 
and carried a good forty thousand men - Normans, light 
infantry, Genoese and Picards. This fleet was drawn up at 
anchor, on orders received from the King of France, to await 
the English, who they knew must pass that way, and prevent 
them from reaching the coast. 

As the English sailed forward, they looked towards Sluys 
and saw such a huge number of ships that their masts re- 
sembled a forest. The King was greatly surprised and asked 
the commander of his fleet what this could be. He replied that 
he thought it must be the Norman navy which the King of 
France maintained at sea and which had done him great harm 
on various occasions, as when it had sacked and burnt South- 
ampton and when it had captured his great ship Christopher, 
with the slaughter of her soldiery and crew. When King 
Edward heard this, he said: 'I have long wanted to fight them. 
We will do so, if it pleases God and St George. They have 
inflicted so much damage on me that I mean to settle accounts 
with them if I can.' 

The King then redisposed his whole fleet, putting his most 
powerful ships in the van and placing vessels filled with 
archers on all the sides, and between every two shiploads of 
archers there was one of men-at-arms. In addition, he de- 
tached a flanking squadron made up entirely of archers, which 
was to give support wherever needed to the most heavily 



engaged. With them were travelling a large number of Eng- 
lish ladies, countesses, baronesses, knights' ladies and wives 
of London burgesses, who were on their way to visit the 
Queen of England at Ghent, where she had been without 
seeing them for a long time. The King took care to give them 
a strong guard, allotting three hundred men-at-arms to the 
task. Then he exhorted hi«^ TTI^n t^ ^g^^ W^^^ 

When King Edward and his Marshal had completed the dis- 
position of their fleet, they had the sails hoisted to catch the 
wind on their starboard quarter, in order to avoid the glare of 
the sun, which was shining straight in their faces. Considering 
that this would be a disadvantage, they fell away a little and 
came round until they had all the wind they wanted. Seeing 
them turn away, the Normans wondered why they did so and 
said : ' They are afraid and are retreating, for they are not men 
enough to fight us.' They could tell from the banners that the 
King of England himself was there, at which they were de- 
lighted, since they were eager to fight him. They put their 
ships in readiness, like the skilled seamen and good fighters 
they w^ere, and set the big ship Christopher, which they had 
taken from the English that same year, in the van with a big 
company of Genoese crossbowmen on board to defend it and 
harass the English. Then they sounded scores of trumpets, 
horns and other instruments and bore down on their enemies 
to engage them. 

Fierce fighting broke out on every side, archers and cross- 
bowmen shooting arrows and bolts at each other pell-mell, 
and men-at-arms struggling and striking in hand-to-hand 
combat. In order to come to closer quarters, they had great 
iron grappling-hooks fi:xed to chains, and these they hurled 
into each others' ships to draw them together and hold them 
fast while the men engaged. Many deadly blows were struck 
and gallant deeds performed, ships and men were battered, 
captured and recaptured. The great ship Christopher was 
recovered by the English at the beginning of the battle and 
all those on board were killed or taken prisoner. This capture 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

took place in the midst of tremendous clamour and shouting, 
at which more English came to the scene and immediately 
re-manned her with a force made up entirely of archers, 
before sending her forward to confront the Genoese. 

It was indeed a bloody and murderous battle. Sea-fightj; are 
always fi ercer th^n fig]-|f^ nn land^ b ecause retr eat and iV^rht 
are i mpossible._ Every man is obliged to hazard his life and 
hope tor success, relying on his own personal bravery and 
skill. There is no question that Sir Hugh Kieret was a good, 
courageous knight, and so were Sir Peter Behuchet and 
Barbavara, who in the past had wrought such havoc at sea 
and put an end to so many Englishmen. Thus the battle con- 
tinued to rage furiously from early morning until afternoon, 
during wliich time there were many notable feats of arms and 
the English were hard put to it to hold their own, since they 
were opposed by hardened soldiers and seamen, who out- 
numbered them by four to one. . . . 

But they performed with such courage that, thanks to a 
reinforcement from Bruges and the surrounding district 
which came to their support, they at last obtained the victory. 
The Normans and all who were with them were utterly de- 
feated, killed or drowned, not a single one escaping in the 
general slaughter. The news quickly spread through Flanders 
and Hainault and thence reached the two armies facing each 
other at Thun-l'Eveque. It brought joy to the Hainaulters, 
the Flemings and the men of Brabant, but dejection to the 

After winning this victory, the English King spent the 
whole of the night, w^hich was midsummer eve,^ on board liis 
ships at sea, amid such a banging and blowing of cymbals 
and trumpets, drums and cornets that God's own thunder 
would not have been heard above it. He was visited by emis- 
saries from Flanders, and he asked those from Bruges for news 
of James van Artevelde. They replied that he had gone to 
the support of the Count of Hainault against the Duke of 

I . Froissart is a day out. The battle was actually fought on midsummer 
day, 24 June. 



Normandy with a force of over sixty thousand Flemings. The 
next day the King entered harbour and disembarked with all 
his men. He went on foot, accompanied by a throng of knights, 
to the Church of Our Lady at Ardenburg. After hearing mass 
there and dining, he mounted on horseback and arrived that 
same day at Ghent, where he was welcomed joyfully by the 
Queen. All his men with their baggage rejoined him there 
little by Uttle. 

Soon after Slujs, a one-year truce between 'England and France 
interrupts their confrontation in the Ij)W Countries. Renewed fighting 
with the Scots ends in an English victory in 1342. Operations against 
the French are resumed in Brittany^ a largely independent dukedom to 
which the succession is disputed. Edward supports Countess Jeanne de 
Montfort against Philip VI's candidate, Charles de Blois. In 
January 1^43, two cardinals delegated by the Pope procure a three- 
year truce between Edward and the Duke of Normandy, commanding 
the French forces in Brittany. For a short time, there is peace be- 
tween the chief contenders. 


The Order of the Qarter {1^44) 

At that time King Edward of England conceived the ide a of 
alterin ga nd rebuilding the ^reat castle of Windsor, originally' 
built by King A rthur, and where had first been established th e 
noble Round Table^from which so many fine men and brave 
loughts had goTieforth and performed great deeds throughout 
the world. King Edward's intention was to found an order of 
knights, made up of himself and his sons and the bravest and 
noblest in England af7^ other countries too.^ There would be 
forty of them in all and they would be called the Knights 
of the Blue Garter and their feast was to be held every year 
at Windsor on St George's Day. To institute the feast, the 
King called together the earls, barons and knights of the 
whole country and told them of his intentions and of his great 
desire to see them carried out. They agreed with him whole- 
heartedly, because they thought it an honourable undertaking 
and one which would strengthen the bonds of friendship 
among them. 

Forty knights were then chosen from among the most 
gallant of them all and these swore a solemn oath to the Kmg 
always to observe the feast and the statutes, as these were 
agreed and drawn up. In the castle of Windsor, the King 
founded and had built the Chapel of St George and estab- 
lished canons to serve God in it, giving them a generous en- 
dowment. In order to make the feast known in all countries, 
the King sent his heralds to announce it in France, Scotland, 
Burgundy, Hainault, Flanders and Brabant, and also in the 
German Empire. All knights and squires who wished to 
come were given safe-conducts for fifteen days after the feast 
for their return home. There were to be jousts against forty 
home knights, challenging all comers, and forty squires as 
well. The feast was to be held on the following St George's 
Day in the year 1344, at Windsor Castle. The Queen of 
1. Addition from the Rome MS. 


England was to be there accompanied by three hundred ladies 
and young girls, all of noble or gentle birth, and all similarly 

To press on with the building- works at Windsor, which 
were decided upon and begun in the year 1 343, workmen were 
brought in from all over England and paid punctually on 
Saturdays. They had a clerk to supervise them and pay their 
wages called William of Wykeham. Later, he became one of 
the great masters of England as bishop and chancellor and 
everything passed through his hands. He stood so high in the 
King's favour that, in his time, everything was done in Eng- 
land by his consent, and nothing was done without it.^ 

1 . Froissart's account needs certain corrections. The original Knights of 
the Garter numbered twenty-six, not forty. It seems certain that the Order 
was formally instituted in 1 348 or 1 349, after Crecy and Calais, though it is 
very possible that the idea did originate in a tournament at Windsor in 
1344. Froissart, though he writes elsewhere of the attachment of Edward 
III to the Countess of Salisbury, makes no attempt to connect the Order 
with the loss of that lady's garter at a ball. He therefore provides no help 
in explaining the motto, Honi soil qui mal y peme. The connexion between 
Windsor and Arthur's Round Table was of course a legend, apparently 
of recent growth in Froissart's day. 

2. This last paragraph is an addition from the Rome MS. 


The (Campaign of Qrecy {1^4^) 

After a second tournament at Windsor {April ij4j) Sdward 
formally terminates the truce with Philip, alleging French viola- 
tions. He sends one of his commanders, Thomas Dagworth, to 
Brittany, inhere the local struggle is still raging. At the request of the 
pro-English Gascon nobles, he sends a larger force to Bordeaux, 
under Henry of Derby, to repel French encroachments in Aquitaine. 
{The duchy had already been declared confiscate by Philip VI, 
after Edward's retraction of his homage.) Derby is at first highly 
successful, but in 1^46 a powerful French army under the Duke of 
Normandy ivipes out many of his gains and lays siege to the English- 
held castle of Aiguillon. 

Froissarfs statement that Edward's campaign in Northern 
France which followed, and led to Crecy and the acquisition of Calais, 
was originally planned as a relief expedition to Gascony, is not dis- 
counted by responsible historians and has documentary support 
{Kymer, Foedera). 

When the King of England heard how hard pressed his 
men were in the Castle of Aiguillon and learnt that his cousin, 
the Earl of Derby, who was at Bordeaux, was not strong 
enough to take the field and raise the siege, he decided to 
assemble a large army and lead it to Gascony. He gave orders 
for full preparations to be made, mobilized men from his own 
kingdom and engaged mercenaries in other countries where 
they could be found. 

At that time Sir Godfrey of Harcourt, having been banished 
from France, arrived in England. He went straight to the 
King and Queen, who were then at Chertsey, a town on the 
Thames some fifteen miles from London. He was received 
with open arms and was immediately made a member of the 
King's household and council. A large estate was assigned to 
him in England to enable him to maintain himself and his 
followers on a lavish scale. Soon after this the King completed 
the first stage of his preparations. A large fleet was brought 



together in Southampton harbour, and all kinds of men-at- 
arms and archers were assembled there. 

At about midsummer 1346 the King took leave of the 
Queen, whom he left in the care of his cousin, the Earl of 
Kent. He appointed Lord Percy and Lord Neville to be 
guardians of his kingdom together with four prelates, the 
Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the Bishops of 
Lincoln and Durham. He left sufficient forces in England to 
defend it if need be, then rode down to Southampton to wait 
for a favourable wind. When it came, he boarded his ship, 
as did his son the Prince of Wales, Sir Godfrey of Harcourt, 
and the other lords, earls and barons, according to the order 
of embarkment. There must have been four thousand men-at- 
arms and ten thousand archers, without counting the Irish 
and Welsh who followed his army on foot. . . . 

They set sail in accordance with the will of God, the wind 
and the sailors, and made a good start towards Gascony, 
where the King intended to go. But on the third day the wind 
changed and drove them back to the coasts of Cornwall, 
where they lay at anchor for six days. At this point the King 
held a new council at the suggestion of Sir Godfrey, whose 
advice was that it would be a better venture to make a landing 
in Normandy. 'Normandy,' said Sir Godfrey, 'is one of the 
richest countries in the world. I promise you, on my life, that 
once you reach it, it will be easy to land there. There will be 
no serious resistance, for the inhabitants have no experience of 
arms and the whole cream of the Norman knights are at the 
siege of Aiguillon with the Duke. You will find large towns 
and fortresses completely undefended, in which your men will 
win enough wealth to make them rich for twenty years to 
come. Your fleet will be able to follow you almost as far as 
Caen. If you see fit to take my advice, you and all of us will 
profit by it. We shall have gold, silver, food supplies and 
everything else in abundance.' 

The King of England, who was then in his prime and 
desired nothing better than to meet the enemy and see action, 
readily agreed with Sir Godfrey, whom he called his cousin. 
He ordered his seamen to change course for Normandy and, 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

taking the admiral's flag from the Earl of Warwick, made him- 
self admiral and led the fleet for that voyage. With the wind 
now in their favour, they sailed to the port of La Hogue in 
the Cotentin Peninsula. The news that the English had arrived 
soon spread and the townships of Cotentin sent messengers at 
all speed to the King of France in Paris. King Philip already 
knew that the English King had been assembling a large 
army and that his fleet had been seen passing the coasts of 
Normandy and Brittany, but it was not known where he was 
making for. So as soon as he rec eived the news of the landing 
in Normandy, he s ummoned his c!ommander-in-^h if"fi ^hr — -^ 
Count of Guines, and the Count of Tancarville, who had both 
recently arrived from Gascony, and ordere d them to go tp 
Gagnto be read y to defend the town and its approaches 
against the English, 'ihey promised to do their utmost and set 
out from Paris accompanied by a large force of men-at-arms, 
whose ranks were constantly swollen by new arrivals. Reach- 
ing Caen, they were greeted with joy by the citizens and the 
people from the surrounding country who had taken refuge 
there. They began to put the town in a state of defence (it w^as 
not walled at that period) and to see that the inhabitants were 
armed and equipped each according to his standing. 

To return to the English fleet which had entered La Hogue : 
when it was drawn up and anchored on the shore, the King 
came off his ship. But as his foot touched the ground, he 
stumbled and fell so heavily that the blood gushed from his 
nose. The knights who were round him took this for a bad 
omen and begged him to go back on board for that day. 
* Why ? ' retorted the King without hesitation. * It's a very good 
sign for me. It shows that this land is longing to embrace me.' 
They were all greatly cheered by this answer. So the King 
encamped on the beach for that day and night and the whole 
of the next. 

Meanwhile the horses were unloaded from the ships with all 
their gear and a council was held to decide how they should 
proceed. The King appointed Sir Godfrey of Harcourt and 
the Earl of Warwick to be Marshals of the army, with the 
Earl of Arundel as Commander-in-Chief. The Earl of Hunt- 



ingdon was directed to remain with the fleet with a hundred 
men-at-arms and four hundred archers. At a second council 
they decided their order to march. The men were divided into 
three columns, one to take the right flank and follow the coast, 
another the left, while the third marched in the centre under 
the King and the Prince of Wales. Each night the flanking 
columns led by the two Marshals were to join up again with 
the King. 

Following this plan, the English army began its advance. 
The fleet sailed along the coast, seizing every vessel, large or 
small, that they fell in with. Archers and foot-soldiers 
marched near them within sight of the sea, robbing, pillaging 
and carrying ofl^ everything they came across. They moved 
forward by land and sea until they reached Barfleur, a seaport 
and fortified town which they took immediately because the 
inhabitants surrendered in the hope of saving their lives, 
though this did not prevent the town from being emptied of 
its gold, silver and jewelry. They found so much of it there 
that the very servants in the army turned up their noses at 
fur-lined gowns. All the men in the town were taken and put 
on board the ships so that there should be no danger of their 
rallying afterwards and harassing them in the rear. 

After capturing and plundering Barfleur, though without 
burning it, they spread out over the country, though they 
still kept near the coast. They did whatever they pleased, for 
no one resisted them. They came in time to a large wealthy 
town and port called Cherbourg. They sacked and burnt part 
of it, but found the citadel too strongly defended to be taken, 
so they went on towards Montbourg and Valogne. This last 
they sacked completely and then set fire to it. They did the 
same to a number of other towns in the region, taking so 
much valuable booty that it would have been an impossible 
task to count it. 

Continuing from Valogne, the Earl of Warwick's column takes 
and sacks the fortified town of Carentan. The other two columns meet 
with similar success, amassing huge quantities of plunder in the form 
of household possessions and the livestock in which Normandy 


BOOK ONE (l^ZZ-j-j) 
So was thcgood, fat land of Norm^nHy nYac^j ^d bur nt 
plun dere^^agpillagcd by the English. untn ^^r^^f ^Th^ 
.they wHn---\v^akin^_£cachcd ^e King of Fr^^r,^ in Paris 
When he heard of it, King Pliilip"^ swore that they should not 
go home without being brought to battle and made to pay 
dearly for the misery and destruction they were inflicting on 
his subjects. He immediately caused a number of letters to be 
written. The first were to his friends in the Empire because 
they were the most distant from him: to the good King of 
Bohemia, who was very dear to him, and also to his son 
Charles of Bohemia, who at that time styled himself King of 
Germany, and by general consent was its king thanks to the 
mfluence and support of his father and of the King of France. 
Indeed, he had already assumed the arms of the Empire. 

King Philip urgently requested them to join him with all 
their available forces in the campaign he was preparing against 
the English who were ravaging his country. They made no 
excuses, but assembled men from Germany, Bohemia and 
Luxemburg and came to France in strength to aid its king 
The latter also wrote to the Duke of Lorraine, who brought 
more than four hundred lances to serve him. The Count of 
Salm, the Count of Saarbriick, the Count of Flanders and 
Count William of Namur came also, each with a very hand- 
some company. King Philip sent another letter with a special 
summons to Sir John of Hainault^ who had recently become 
his ally through the influence of his son-in-law. Count Louis 
of Blois, and of the Lord of Fagnolle. Sir John responded by 
brmgmg a large and splendidly equipped force of ^ood 
knights from Hainault and elsewhere. His arrival so^ de- 
lighted the King that he attached him to his personal service 
and made him a member of his inner council. In this way the 
King of France summoned fighting men from every possible 
quarter and assembled one of the largest forces of great lords 
dukes, counts, barons and knights that had been seen in 
France for a hundred years. But he had to bring them from 
such distant countries that it took a long time to collect them; 

r:^' ^^^r"^^ ""^."^ '''^° ^^^ ^^^^^^^d Q^een Isabella and the youn? 
tdward III in 1326-7. ^ 



and meanwhile the King of England had devastated the whole 
region of Cotentin and Normandy. 

The tale of plunder continues. The inhabitants, ivho have never 
experienced war, flee at the mere ?}iention of the English, leaving their 
houses and hams filled with provisions for the taking. The armj find an 
abundance of everything they need except wine, and there are reasonable 
stocks even of that. They capture Saint-T6, where they acquire such 
quantities of cloth that ' they would have let it go cheap if they had 
had anyone to sell it to '. 

When the King of England and his men had done as they 
pleased with the town of Saint-L6, they marched on towards 
Caen, which was three times larger and full of wealth in the 
form of cloth and other goods, with rich citizens, noble ladies 
and very fine churches. In particular, there are two big and 
extremely wealthy abbeys, that of St Stephen and that of the 
Trinity, situated at either end of the town. One of them 
housed a hundred and twenty nuns, all fully endowed. Be- 
sides this, one of the strongest and finest castles in Nor- 
mandy lies on one side of the town. Its captain at that time was 
a gallant Norman knight called Sir Robert de Wargnies, 
commanding a garrison of three hundred Genoese. 

In the town itself were the Count of Eu and Guines, Con- 
stable of France, and the Count of Tancarville with a large 
number of good fighting men. The King of England ad- 
vanced cautiously towards them, ordered his columns to 
join up, and encamped that night in open country five miles 
from the town. His fleet kept constantly near him and came 
to a port called Ouistreham, some six miles from Caen on 
the River Orne, which flows through Caen. The Constable 
of France and the other lords with him kept good watch 
over the town that night and were not over concerned about 
the EngUsh. The next morning they armed themselves, 
ordering their men and all the townspeople to do the same, 
and then held a council to decide their plan of action. The 
Constable and the Count of Tancarville wished to keep all 
their forces in the town to hold the gates, the bridge and the 
river, and to abandon the outskirts to the EngUsh because 
they were not fortified. It would be difficult enough to hold 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

the main part of the town, since the river was its only Hne of 

The townspeople refused to agree and insisted on marching 
out to the fields to meet the English there, saying that they 
were numerous and strong enough to fight them. When the 
Constable heard their decision, he replied: 'So be it then, and 
God be with us. If you fight, I and my men will fight with 
you.' They marched out of the town in good enough order at 
the beginning. They seemed ready to risk their lives courage- 
ously and to put up a good defence. 

On that day the English rose very early and made ready to 
advance. The King heard mass before sunrise, then mounted 
his horse, as did his son the Prince and Sir Godfrey of Har- 
court, on whose advice the King largely relied. They moved 
forward in perfect order, with the Marshals' banner-bearers 
in the van, until they came close to the town of Caen and its 
defenders. These were waiting drawn up in the fields, appar- 
ently in excellent shape. But no sooner did the townsmen see^ 
the English advancing upon them in three solid, clo sq- 
order ed divisions and catch sight of the banners and the in- 
numerable pennons waving and fluttering in the wind and hear 
the shouting of the archers - all things of which they had had 
no previous experience - than they were so filled with dismay 
that nothing in the w orld could have stopped them taking to 
t heir heels. They turned and fled in confusion, in spite oF 
everything the Constable could do. In a few moments their 
whole order of battle had broken up and they were rushing 
in terror to reach the safety of the town. Many of them 
stumbled and fell in the struggle to escape, while others piled 
on top of them in their panic. 

The Constable and the Count of Tancarville with a few 
knights reached a gate at the entry to the bridge in safety. 
Since their men had broken, they could see that the battle 
was already lost. The English were now among them, killing 
as they liked without mercy. A few knights and squires and 
others who knew the way managed to reach the castle, where 
they were admitted by Sir Robert de Wargnies, who had 



plenty of room and provisions. There they were out of 
danger. Meanwhile the English, men-at-arms and archers, 
were continuing the slaughter of the fugitives, sparing none. 
Looking out from the gate-tower where they had taken refuge 
and seeing the truly horrible carnage which was taking place 
in the street, the Constable and the Count began to fear that 
they themselves might be drawn into it and fall into the hands 
of archers who did not know who they were. While they were 
watching the massacre in dismay, they caught sight of a 
gallant English knight with only one eye, called Sir Thomas 
Holland, and five or six other knights with him. They 
recognized him because they had campaigned together in 
Granada and Prussia and on other expeditions, in the way in 
which knights do meet each other. They were much relieved 
when they saw him and called out to him as he passed : ' Sir 
Thomas, come and speak to us.' On hearing his own name the 
knight stopped dead and asked: 'Who are you, sirs, who seem 
to know me?' They gave their names, saying: 'We are so- 
and-so. Come to us in this gate-tower and make us your 

When he heard this Sir Thomas was delighted, not only 
because he could save their lives but also because their 
capture meant an excellent day's work and a fine haul of valu- 
able prisoners, enough to bring in a hundred thousand gold 
moutons. So he brought the whole of his troop to the spot as 
quickly as possible and went up with sixteen of his men into 
the gate-tower, where he found the lords who had called to 
him and at least twenty-five knights with them, all looking 
very uneasy at the slaughter they could see in the town. They 
surrendered immediately and pledged themselves to be Sir 
Thomas's prisoners. Leaving sufficient of his men to guard 
them, the knight rode on through the streets. He was able that 
day to prevent many cruel and horrible acts which would 
otherwise have been committed, thus giving proof of his kind 
and noble heart. Several gallant English knights who were 
with him also prevented a number of evil deeds and rescued 
many a pretty townswoman and many a nun from rape. 

Fortunately for the English, the river which flows through 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

Caen and which can float large ships was so low and sluggish 
that they could easily pass across it without troubling about 
the bridge. 

In this way the King of England became master of Caen, 
though at a heavy price in men. For some of the inhabitants 
went up to the garrets overhanging the narrow streets and 
flung down stones and beams and masonry, killing and 
injuring several hundred of the English. The King was en- 
raged when this was reported to him in the evening and gave 
orders for the whole population to be put to the sword on the 
next day and the town to be set on fire. Sir Godfrey of Har- 
court forestalled this order by saying to him : 

'Beloved sire, be a little less impetuous and content your- 
self with what you have done. You still have a long way to go 
before you reach Calais, as you intend. There are large num- 
bers of people in this town who will defend themselves from 
house to house if they are attacked. To destroy the place might 
cost you dear and cripple your expedition. Remember that 
your enemy King Philip is certain to march against you in full 
strength and engage you, for good or ill, so there is still 
plenty of fighting before you, for which you will need all the 
forces you have and more. We can be masters of this town 
without further killing. Both men and women will be quite 
ready to give up everything they have to us.' 

The King saw that Sir Godfrey was right and that things 
might well fall out as he said. So he changed his mind and 
replied: 'Sir Godfrey, you are our Marshal. Go and give 
whatever orders you see fit. For this once I leave everything 
in your hands.' 

Sir Godfrey sent his banner through all the streets and had it 
proclaimed, in the King's name, that none should dare, on 
pain of the gallows, to start a fire, kill a man or rape a woman. 

This proclamation reassured the townspeople and they 
allowed some of the English into their homes, without attempt- 
ing to harm them. Some opened their chests and strong-boxes 
and gave up all they had, on condition that their lives were 
spared. But notwithstanding this and the orders of the King 



and the Marshal, there were many ugly cases of murder and 
pillage, of arson and robbery, for in an army such as the King 
of England was leading it was impossible that there should 
not be plenty of bad characters and criminals without con- 

For three days the English remained in possession of Caen, 
where they won an amazing quantity of wealth for themselves. 
They used the time to put their affairs in order and sent boats 
and barges laden with their gains - clothes, jewelry, gold and 
silver plate and many other valuable things - down the river 
to Ouistreham where their main fleet lay. They decided after 
long deliberation to send the fleet back to England with the 
booty and the prisoners. The Earl of Huntingdon remained 
in command of it, with two hundred men-at-arms and four 
hundred archers. The King of England bought the Count of 
Guines, Constable of France, and the Count of Tancarville 
from Sir Thomas Holland and his companions for twenty 
thousand nobles in cash. 

So the King sent back his fleet full of conquered spoils and 
of good prisoners, including more than sixty knights and three 
hundred wealthy citizens, with a host of loving greetings to his 
wife, my lady Philippa, the gracious Queen of England. 

The English ravage the country west of the Seine, but without 
attacking the fortified places, ^because the King wished to husband his 
men and artillery (i.e., siege-engines)\ They follow the left bank of 
the river as far as Poissy, some twenty miles from the capital. 

They found all the bridges over the Seine destroyed, so 
went on until they came to Poissy. Here the bridge had also 
been broken down, but the piles and cross-beams were still 
in the river. The King halted there for five days until the 
bridge had been rebuilt strongly enough for his army to cross 
with ease and safety. His Marshals made forays nearly to 
Paris, burning Saint-Germain-en-Laye and La Montjoie, 
Saint-Cloud, Boulogne and Bourg-le-Reine. At this the people 
of Paris grew alarmed, for the city was not fortified at that 
time and they were afraid that the English would come right 
into it. 

King Philip bestirred himself and had all the penthouses in 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

Paris removed to make it easier for his men to ride through 
the streets. Then he prepared to leave for Saint-Denis, where 
the King of Bohemia, Sir John of Hainault, the Duke of 
Lorraine, the Counts of Flanders and Blois and many barons 
and knights were waiting. 

When the people of Paris saw that their King was leaving, 
they were more alarmed than ever. They came and knelt 
before him, saying: 'Beloved sire and noble king, what are 
you about to do ? Will you abandon your good city of Paris 
in this way? The enemy are only five miles from us. When 
they hear that you have gone they will be here in an instant, 
and we shall have no one to defend us against them. Sire, we 
beg you to stay and help protect your loyal city.' 

The King answered : ' My good people, you have nothing to 
fear. The English will come no nearer. I am going to Saint- 
Denis to be with my soldiers, for I mean to march against the 
English and fight them, whatever the outcome.' 

In this way the King of France calmed the people of Paris, 
who were in great fear of being attacked and destroyed, so 
suffering the same fate as Caen. But the King of England 
lodged in the Abbey of Poissy-les-Dames and held his solemn 
state on the Feast of the Assumption, in the middle of August. 
He sat at table in a sleeveless scarlet gown trimmed with 

The 'English leave Polssy on 16 August and move rapidly north. 
They skirt BeauvaiSy burning the suburbs, and take several smaller 
places before they reach Vimeu, the district ivest of Amiens and 
Abbeville. King Philip is now in close pursuit with a much superior 
army. On his orders the bridges over the Somme have either been 
destroyed or are so strongly defended that the English probe in vain 
to find a way across. They are in danger of being hemmed in against 
the river. At this point in the narrative, the French are at Amiens 
and the English have just decamped from the neighbouring town of 
Airaines to move to Oisemont, a few miles farther on. King Philip 
has sent a detachment under Sir Godemar du Fay to guard the last 
remaining crossing of the Somme, the ford of Blanchetaque, below 

Having given these orders, King Philip, who was eager to 



come up with the EngHsh and engage them, left Amiens with 
his whole force. At about noon he reached Airaines, which 
the King of England had quitted in the early morning. The 
French found that large quantities of provisions had been left 
behind. There was meat on the spits, there were loaves and 
. pies in the ovens, barrels and kegs of wine, and many tables 
ready laid, for the English had left in great haste. 

At Airaines King Philip's advisers said to him: 'Sire, you 
should halt here and wait for the rest of your army. It is cer- 
tain now that the English cannot escape you.' So the King 
took up his quarters in the town and, as the various lords 
arrived, they were lodged there also. 

To return to the King of England, who was in the town of 
Oisemont and w^ell aware that the King of France was follow- 
ing him in full strength thirsting for battle. He would have 
given much to be across the River Somme with his men. 
When his two Marshals returned in the evening, after ranging 
the country as far as the gates of Abbeville and reaching Saint- 
Valery-sur-Somme, where there had been a sharp skirmish, he 
called together his council and, sending for some prisoners 
from Vimeu and Ponthieu, he said to them in a kindly voice : 

'Do any of you know of a crossing - it must be below 
Abbeville - by which we and our army can pass safely? If 
anyone can guide us to it, we will set him free with twenty of 
his comrades.' 

There was a certain groom called Gobin Agace who knew 
the ford of La Blanchetaque as well as any man, having been 
born and bred near it and having crossed over it several 
times that year. This man came forward and said: 

'Yes indeed, sire. I promise you on my life that I can take 
you to a place where you can cross quite safely. There are 
some shallows wide enough for twelve men to walk over 
abreast, with the water no higher than their knees. When the 
tide is in, the river is too deep to ford. But when it goes out, 
which happens twice a day, it is low enough to be crossed on 
horseback or on foot. That is the only place where it can be 
done, except by the bridge at Abbeville, but that is a fortified 
town with a strong garrison. The ford I am telling you about, 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

my lord, has a firm bottom of white gravel which will bear 
the weight of carts. That is why it is called Blanchetaque.' 

When the King heard this, he was as pleased as if he had 
won a fortune, and he said : ' Well, friend, if what you tell me 
proves to be true, I will set you free with all your comrades 
and give you a hundred gold nobles.' 

'On my Hfe I swear it,' said Gobin Agace. 'But make your 
arrangements now to be on the bank before sunrise.' 

'Certainly,' said the King. He gave orders for the whole 
army to be armed and ready to move on again at the sound of 
the trumpets. 

He slept little that night, but rose at midnight and had the 
trumpeters sound the signal to strike camp. Soon everything 
was ready, the pack-horses loaded and the wagons filled. 
Leaving Oisement at first light, they made such good pro- 
gress guided by the groom that by sunrise they were near to 
the ford. But the tide was in and they could not cross, so the 
King was obliged to wait for the rest of his men to catch up 
with him. When the tide had gone out it was mid-morning and 
by that time Sir Godemar du Fay, the knight whom King 
Philip had sent to guard the crossing, had appeared with a 
large force on the opposite bank. 

King Philip had given him a thousand men-at-arms and 
five thousand foot-soldiers, including the Genoese, and he hud 
been joined on the way by large numbers of local men, so 
that they were at least twelve thousand strong when they drew 
up along the bank to dispute the crossing. 

This brought no change to the King of England's plans. He 
ordered his Marshals to strike at once into the water and his 
archers to shoot steadily at the French opposite. The tw^o 
Marshals of England sent their banner-bearers forward, in the 
name of God and St George, and followed closely them- 
selves. The bravest knights hurled their horses into the water, 
with the best mounted in the lead. There were many jousts in 
the river and many unhorsings on both sides, for Sir Gode- 
mar and his men defended the crossing bravely. A number of 
his knights, with others from Artois and Picardy, had decided 
not to wait on the bank but to ride into the ford and fight 



there in order to win greater distinction. So there was, as I 
have said, many a joust and many a skilled piece of fighting, 
for the knights sent to defend the shallows were picked men 
who stood in good order at the neck of the crossing and 
clashed fiercely with the English as these came up out of the 
water. The Genoese also did much damage with their cross- 
bows, but the English archers shot so well together that it 
was an amazing sight to see. And while they were harassing 
the French, the mounted men got through. 

When the English were finally across, though not without 
considerable losses, they spread out over the fields, with the 
King, the Prince of Wales and all their nobles. After this, the 
French order was broken and those who could get away from 
the ford made off like defeated men. Some went towards 
Abbeville, others towards Saint-Riquier. There was great 
slaughter among them because those on foot had no means of 
escape. The pursuit went on for more than three miles and 
many from Abbeville, Montreuil, Rue and Saint-Riquier were 
killed or captured. On the other hand, some of the English 
were attacked before they could get over the river by squires 
from the French army who had come out looking for a fight. 
These belonged in particular to the Empire, to the King of 
Bohemia and to Sir John of Hainault. They captured some 
horses and equipment and killed or wounded a number in the 
EngUsh rear who were still trying to cross. 

King Philip had left Airaines that morning and was riding 
rapidly forward when news was brought him of the English 
crossing and Sir Godemar's defeat. He was extremely angry, 
for he had been expecting to find the English on the bank of 
the Somme and fight them there. He halted in open country 
and asked his jSIarshals what was the best thing to do. They 
repHed : ' Sire, you cannot cross the river yourself because the 
tide is in again now.' So the King turned back in fury and took 
up his quarters in Abbeville with all his people. 

When the English had scattered the enemy and cleared the 
ground, they formed up in excellent order, assembled their 
supply-train and moved oif in their habitual way. Knowing 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

that the Somme was behind them they were full of confidence. 
The King of England thanked and praised God many times 
that day for bringing him safely over the water and making 
him overcome his enemies in battle. He then sent for the 
groom who had guided him to the ford, set him free with all 
his comrades, and gave him a hundred gold nobles and a good 
horse. I do not know what became of him afterwards. 

As the King and his army rode slowly and joyfully along, 
they thought of quartering for the night in the nearby town of 
Noyelle. But when they learnt that it belonged to the Countess 
of Aumale, the sister of the late Robert of Artois, they spared 
the town and the lady's lands for his sake - an act of friendship 
for which she thanked them warmly. The King halted in- 
stead in open country near La Broye, while the Marshals 
made an incursion to Crotoy, on the coast, which they took 
and burnt to the ground. In the harbour they found a number 
of ships and barges laden with Poitou wines which belonged 
to merchants from Saintonge and La Rochelle. They quickly 
bought up the lot and the Marshals had some of the best 
of them sent to the King's army encamped a few miles 

Early the next day the King struck camp and moved to- 
wards Crecy in Ponthieu. The Marshals led their forces on 
either side of him. One pushed forward as far as the gates of 
Abbeville, then turned away towards Saint-Riquier, burning 
and devastating the country. The other kept near the coast and 
reached the town of Rue. Then at noon on that Friday the 
three divisions joined up again and the whole army came to a 
halt not far from Crecy. 

Knowing that the King of France was close behind him and 
eager for battle. King Edward said to his men : 

'I will take up my position here and go no further until I 
have a sight of the enemy. I have good reason to wait for him, 
for I am on the land I have lawfully inherited from my royal 
mother, which was given to her as her marriage portion. I am 
ready to defend my claim to it against my adversary Philip of 



The King encamped in the open fields with his army and, 
since he was willing to risk the fortunes of battle with numbers 
which he knew were only an eighth of those of the King of 
France, he had to give urgent thought to his dispositions. He 
ordered his Marshals, the Earl of Warwick and Sir Godfrey 
of Harcourt, and with them that stout and gallant knight Sir 
Reginald Cobham, to consider the best place in which to draw 
up their forces. The three commanders rode round the fields 
and carefully studied the terrain to find the most advan- 
tageous position. Then they brought the King to it, with 
many others as well. Meanwhile, scouts had been sent out 
towards Abbeville, where they knew the King of France 
would cross the Somme, to discover if he was leaving that 
day to take the field. They reported that there was no sign of 

So King Edward stood down his men for the day, with 
orders to assemble early next morning at the sound of the 
trumpets, in readiness to fight at once on the chosen positions. 
They all went to their quarters and busied themselves in 
checking and polishing their arms and armour. 

The King of France spends the same day {Friday, 2j August) in 
A.bbeville, also preparing for battle. His scouts have reconnoitred the 
position of the Fnglish and reported that they are evidently waiting 
for him. He moves some troops out of the town in readiness to march 
the next day. In the evening he gives a supper for the principal nobles, 
at which they pledge themselves to behave as brothers-in-arms. King 
Fdward also gives a supper for his commanders and then retires to his 
oratory. Froissart continues: 

He knelt before his altar, devout] v praying God to grant 
that, if he fought the next day, he sh >uld come through the 
business with honour. He rose fairly early in the morning and 
heard mass with his son the Prince of Wales. They took com- 
munion and most of their men also confessed and put them- 
selves in a state of grace. 

The King then gave orders for every man to go to the 
positions decided upon the day before. Close to a wood in the 
rear he had a large park set up, in which all the wagons and 
carts were put. All the horses were led into this park, leaving 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

every man-at-arms and archer on foot. The park had only one 

He caused liis Constable and his Marshals to divide the army 
into three bodies. In the first was liis son the young prince, 
and to fight beside him he chose the Earl of Warwick, the 
Earl of Oxford, Sir Godfrey of Harcourt, Sir Reginald Cob- 
ham, Sir Thomas Holland, Sir Richard Stafford, the Lord of 
Man, the Lord Delawar, Sir John Chandos, Sir Bartholomew 
Burghersh, Sir Robert Neville, Sir Thomas Clifford, the Lord 
Bourchier, the Lord Latimer and many other brave knights 
and squires, whom I cannot name in full. In the Prince's 
division there would have been about eight hundred men-at- 
arms, two thousand archers and a thousand light infantry in- 
cluding the Welsh. This body moved on to its positions in 
good order, each knight marching beneath his banner or 
pennon, or among his men. 

In the second division were the Earls of Northampton and 
Arundel, the Lord Ros, the Lord Lucy, the Lord Willoughby, 
the Lord Basset, the Lord St Aubin, Sir Lewis Tufton, the 
Lord Multon, the Lord Alasselle and a number of others. 
This body consisted of about five hundred men-at-arms and 
twelve hundred archers. 

The third division was the King's and was made up, as was 
fitting, of numerous good knights and squires, amounting co 
seven hundred men-at-arms and two thousand archers. When 
the three divisions had taken up their positions and each earl, 
knight and squire knew w^hat he had to do, the King mounted 
a small riding-horse and, holding a white baton in his hand, 
rode slowly round the ranks escorted by his Marshals, en- 
couraging his men and asking them to stand up for his 
honour and help defend his rights. He spoke to them in such a 
smiUng, cheerful way that the most disheartened would have 
plucked up courage on hearing him. When he had gone round 
the whole army it was about midday. Returning to his own 
division, he gave orders for all the men to stand down and 
eat and drink at their ease. Having done this and packed up 
the pots, kegs and provisions in the carts again, they went back 
to their battle-positions. They sat down on the ground with 



their helmets and bows in front of them, so as to be fresh 
and rested when the enemy arrived. 

That Saturday morning the King of France rose early and 
heard mass in the Abbey of St Peter in Abbeville, where he 
had his quarters. All the great lords and commanders who 
were in Abbeville, the King of Bohemia, the Count of 
Alencon, the Count of Blois, the Count of Flanders and others 
followed his example. It should be said that not all had been 
quartered in Abbeville, for there would not have been room 
for them. Some had lodged in the surrounding villages and a 
large number at Saint-Riquier, which is a fortified town. The 
King moved out of Abbeville after sunrise with such a great 
force of fighting men as has been rarely seen. Accompanied by 
the King of Bohemia and Sir John of Hainault, he rode very 
slowly to allow his men to catch up with him. When he had 
advanced about six miles in the direction of the enemy, his 
officers said to him: 

' Sire, it would be advisable to put your divisions in order 
and to let all the foot-soldiers go forward to avoid being 
trampled down by the horsemen. And you should send some 
of your knights ahead to reconnoitre the enemy's position.' 

The King readily agreed and sent forward four gallant 
knights, Le Moine de Bazeilles, the Lord of Noyers, the Lord 
of Beaujeu and the Lord of Aubigny, who approached so 
near to the English that they obtained a very good view of 
their disposition. The English saw clearly what they were 
doing, but they made no move and let them ride off un- 

The four returned towards the King of France and liis 
commanders, who had been walking their horses until they 
came back and halted when they saw them. The knights 
pushed through the crowd to reach the King, who called to 
them : ' Well, my lords, what news ? ' They looked at each 
other without answering, for none of them wished to be the 
first to speak, as a matter of courtesy towards his companions. 
At last the King turned to Le Moine de Bazeilles, who was 
esteemed as one of the bravest and most chivalrous of knights 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

and one of the most experienced in war, and formally com- 
manded him to give his opinion. This knight was a dependent 
of the King of Bohemia, who always felt more secure when 
he had him with him. 

*Sire,' said Le Moine de Bazeilles, *I will speak since it is 
your wish, subject to correction by my companions. We rode 
forward. We viewed the English lines. I have to report that 
they are drawn up in three divisions, very prettily disposed, 
and show no sign of intending to retreat. They are obviously 
waiting for you. So my advice - always subject to a better 
opinion - is that you should halt all your men now and en- 
camp in the open for today. Before the rear can come up with 
you and you can put your divisions in some order, it will be 
getting late. Your men will be tired and in no sort of shape 
and you will find that the enemy are fresh and rested and in 
no doubt of the way they plan to fight. In the morning you 
will be able to give more thought to your battle-order and 
make a closer study of the enemy's position to see which is 
the best line of attack. You can be sure that they will still be 

The King fully approved this advice and ordered his Mar- 
shals to put it into execution. One of them rode forward and 
the other back, shouting to the standard-bearers: 'Halt 
banners on the King's orders, in the name of God and St 
Denis ! ' At this command the leaders halted, but those be- 
hind continued to advance, saying that they would not stop 
until they had caught up with the front ranks. And when the 
leaders saw the others coming they went on also. So pride 
and vanity took charge of events. Each wanted to outshine his 
companions, regardless of the advice of the gallant Le Moine 
and with the disastrous consequences of which you shall 
shortly hear. Neither the King nor his Marshals could restrain 
them any longer, for there were too many great lords among 
them, all determined to show their power. 

They rode on in this way, in no order or formation, until 
they came within sight of the enemy. For what they did then 
the leaders were much to blame. As soon as they saw the 
EngUsh they reined back like one man, in such disorder that 



those behind were taken by surprise and imagined they had 
already been engaged and were retreating. Yet they still had 
room to advance if they wished to. Some did, while others 
stopped where they were. 

The countryside was also covered with countless volunteers 
from the district. They crowded the roads between Abbeville 
and Crecy, and when they came within ten miles of the enemy 
they drew their swords and shouted: 'Kill! Kill!' Yet they 
hadn't seen a soul. 

There is no one, even among those present on that day, who 
has been able to understand and relate the whole truth of the 
matter. This was especially so on the French side, where such 
confusion reigned. What I know about it comes chiefly from 
the EngHsh, who had a good understanding of their own battle- 
plan, and also from some of Sir John of Hainault's men, who 
were never far from the King of France. 

The English, who were drawn up in their three divisions 
and sitting quietly on the ground, got up with perfect dis- 
cipline when they saw the French approaching and formed 
their ranks, w4th the archers in harrow-formation^ and the 
men-at-arms behind. The Prince of Wales's division was in 
front. The second, commanded by the Earls of Northampton 
and Arundel, was on the wing, ready to support the Prince if 
the need arose. ^ 

It must be stressed that the French lords - kings, dukes, 
counts and barons - did not reach the spot together, but 
arrived one after another, in no kind of order. When King 

I . The most plausible interpretation of this phrase, en maniere de herse, is 
that the archers formed hollow wedges pointed towards the enemy, at 
each end of a body of foot-soldiers and positioned slightly in advance of 
these. The formation would look like this: 


2. The King's division remained in reserve and, according to Froissart's 
account, took no part in the battle, as appears later. 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

Philip came near the place where the English were and saw 
them, his blood boiled, for he hated them. Nothing could now 
stop him from giving battle. He said to his Marshals: 'Send 
forward our Genoese and begin the battle, in the name of God 
and St Denis.' 

He had with him about fifteen thousand' Genoese bowmen 
who would sooner have gone to the devil than fight at that 
moment, for they had just marched over eighteen miles, in 
armour and carrying their crossbows. They told their com- 
manders that they were not in a state to fight much of a battle 
just then. These words came to the ears of the Count of 
Alen^on, who grew very angry and said: 'What is the use of 
burdening ourselves with this rabble who give up just when 
they are needed!' 

While this argument was going on and the Genoese were 
hanging back, a heavy storm of rain came on and there were 
loud claps of thunder, with lightning. Before the rain, huge 
flocks of crows had flown over both armies, making a deafen- 
ing noise in the air. Some experienced knights said that this 
portended a great and murderous battle. 

Then the sky began to clear and the sun shone out brightly. 
But the French had it straight in their eyes and the English 
at their backs. The Genoese, having been marshalled into 
proper order and made to advance, began to utter loud 
whoops to frighten the English. The English waited in 
silence and did not stir.^ The Genoese hulloa'd a second time 
and advanced a little farther, but the English still made no 
move. Then they raised a third shout, very loud and clear, 
levelled their crossbows and began to shoot. 

At this the English archers took one pace forward and 
poured out their arrows on the Genoese so thickly and evenly 
that they fell like snow. When they felt those arrows piercing 

1 . Modern authorities put their numbers at six thousand at most, and 
perhaps much fewer. 

2. In the Amiens MS this sentence runs: 'And the English kept quite 
still and fired off some cannons which they had in their battle-formation, 
to frighten the Genoese.' The Chrottiques Abrigees, an abridgement of the 
Chronicles of late date attributed to Froissart, also mentions the firing of 
' two or three bombards'. See Cannon in Glossary. 



their arms, their heads, their faces, the Genoese, who had 
never met such archers before, were thrown into confusion. 
Many cut their bowstrings and some threw down their cross- 
bows. They began to fall back. 

Between them and the main body of the French there was a 
hedge of knights, splendidly mounted and armed, who had 
been watching their discomfiture and now cut off their retreat. 
For the King of France, seeing how miserably they had per- 
formed, called out in great anger: 'Quick now, kill all that 
rabble. They are only getting in our way!' Thereupon the 
mounted men began to strike out at them on all sides and 
many staggered and fell, never to rise again. The English 
continued to shoot into the thickest part of the crowd, wast- 
ing none of their arrows. They impaled or wounded horses 
and riders, who fell to the ground in great distress, unable to 
get up again without the help of several men. 

So began the battle between La Broye and Crecy in Pon- 
thieu at four o'clock on that Saturday afternoon. 

The noble and gallant King of Bohemia, also known as 
John of Luxemburg because he was the son of the Emperor 
Henry of Luxemburg, was told by his people that the battle 
had begun. Although he was in full armour and equipped for 
combat, he could see nothing because he was blind. He 
asked his knights what the situation was and they described 
the rout of the Genoese and the confusion which followed 
King Philip's order to kill them. *Ha,' replied the King of 
Bohemia. 'That is a signal for us.' He then asked for news of 
his son Charles, King of Germany, and was told: 'My lord, 
we have none. We believe he must be fighting on some other 
part of the field.' Then the King said a very brave thing to his 
knights: 'My lords, you are my men, my friends and my com- 
panions-in-arms. Today I have a special request to make of 
you. Take me far enough forward for me to strike a blow 
with my sword.' 

Because they cherished his honour and their own prowess, 
his knights consented. Among them was Le Moine de 
Bazeilles, who rode beside him and would never willingly 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

have left him, and there were several other good knights from 
the County of Luxemburg. In order to acquit themselves well 
and not lose the King in the press, they tied all their horses 
together by the bridles, set their king in front so that he might 
fulfil his wish, and rode towards the enemy. 

It is true that too few great feats of arms were performed 
that day, considering the vast number of fine soldiers and 
excellent knights w^ho were with the King of France. But the 
battle began late and the French had had a long and heavy day 
before they arrived. Yet they still went forward and preferred 
death to a dishonourable flight. There present were the Count 
of Alen^on, the Count of Blois, the Count of Flanders, the 
Duke of Lorraine, the Count of Harcourt,^ the Count of Saint- 
Pol, the Count of Namur, the Count of Auxerre, the Count of 
Aumale, the Count of Sancerre, the Count of Saarbruck and 
many other lords, barons and knights. 

There also was Lord Charles of Bohemia, who bore the 
title and arms of King of Germany, and who brought his 
men in good order to the battlefield. But when he saw that 
things were going badly for his side, he turned and left. I 
do not know which way he went. 

Not so the good King his father, for he came so close to 
the enemy that he w^as able to use his sword several times 
and fought most bravely, as did the knights with him. 
They advanced so far forward that they all remained on 
the field, not one escaping alive. They were found the next 
day lying round their leader, with their horses still fastened 

The King of France w^as in great distress when he saw his 
army being destroyed piecemeal by such a handful of men as 
the English were. He asked the opinion of Sir John of Hai- 
nault, who was at his side. 'Well, sire,' Sir John answered, 
*the only advice I can give you now is to withdraw to some 
place of safety, for I see no hope of recovery. Also, it will soon 

I. Brother of the English commander. Sir Godfrey of Harcourt. 
Froissart later records that he was killed in the battle, as were nearly all the 
other nobles listed here. 



be dark and you might just as easily fall in with your enemies 
and meet disaster as find yourself among friends.' 

The BCing, shaking with anger and vexation, made no im- 
mediate reply, but rode on a little farther as though to reach 
his brother the Count of Alen^on, whose banners he could see 
at the top of a small rise. The Count was launching a very well- 
ordered attack on the English, as was the Count of Flanders 
from another quarter. They moved their forces along the 
flank of the archers and reached the Prince of Wales's division, 
which they engaged fiercely for a long time. King Philip 
would gladly have joined them had it been possible, but there 
was such a throng of archers and men-at-arms in front of him 
that he could not get through. The farther he advanced, the 
smaller his numbers grew. ... 

The lateness of the hour harmed the French cause as much 
as anything, for in the dark many of the men-at-arms lost their 
leaders and wandered about the field in disorder only to fall 
in with the English, who quickly overwhelmed and killed 
them. They took no prisoners and asked no ransoms, acting 
as they had decided among themselves in the morning when 
they were aware of the huge numbers of the enemy. 

Yet some French knights and squires, and with them Ger- 
mans and Savoyards, succeeded in breaking through the 
Prince of Wales's archers and engaging the men-at-arms in 
hand-to-hand combat with swords. There was much brave 
and skilful fighting. On the English side, Sir Reginald Cob- 
ham and Sir John Chandos distinguished themselves, as well 
as others too numerous to be named, for all the flower of the 
English knighthood was there with the Prince. At that point 
the Earls of Northampton and Arundel, commanding the 
second division on the wing, sent support over to the Prince's 
division. It was high time, for otherwise it would have had its 
hands full. And because of the danger in which those respon- 
sible for the Prince found themselves, they sent a knight to 
King Edward, who had his position higher up on the mound 
of a windmill, to ask for help. 

When he reached the King, the knight said : * Sire, the Earls 
of Warwick and Oxford and Sir Reginald Cobham, who are 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

with the Prince, are meeting a very fierce attack by the 
French. So they ask you to bring your division to their sup- 
port, because if the attack grows any heavier, they fear it will 
be about as much as your son can deal with/ The King asked 
the knight, whose name was Sir Thomas of Norwich: 'Is my 
son dead or stunned, or so seriously wounded that he cannot 
go on fighting?' 'No, thank God,' replied the knight, 'but he 
is very hard pressed and needs your help badly.' 

' Sir Thomas,' the King answered, 'go back to him and to 
those who have sent you and tell them not to send for me 
again today, as long as my son is alive. Give them my com- 
mand to let the boy win his spurs, for if God has so ordained 
it, I wish the day to be his and the honour to go to him and to 
those in whose charge I have placed him.' 

The knight went back to his commanders and gave them 
the King's message. It heartened them greatly and they 
privately regretted having sent him. They fought better than 
ever and must have performed great feats of arms, for they 
remained in possession of the ground with honour. 

Late in the evening, as it was growing dark, King Philip 
left the field in despair, accompanied by five lords only. 
These were Sir John of Hainault, the first and nearest to him, 
and the Lords of Montmorency, Beaujeu, Aubigny, and Mont- 
sault. The King rode lamenting and mourning for his men 
until he came to the castle of La Broye. He found the gate 
shut and the drawbridge up, for it was now fully night and 
pitch-dark. He called for the captain of the castle, who came 
to the look-out turret and shouted down: 'Who comes 
knocking at this hour?' 'Open your gate, captain,' King 
Philip answered. 'It is the unfortunate King of France.' 

The captain came out at once, recognizing the King's voice 
and having already heard of the defeat from fugitives who had 
passed the castle. The drawbridge was lowered and the King 
entered with his whole troop, but he was warned that it would 
be unwise to stay shut up inside there. So he and his men 
took a drink and left the castle again at about midnight, 
taking guides with them who knew the country. They rode 



SO hard that by daybreak they reached Amiens, where the 
King stopped and lodged in an abbey, saying he would go no 
farther until he had news of the fate of all his army. 

It must be said that fearful losses had been inflicted on the 
French and that the kingdom of France was greatly weakened 
by the death of so many of her brave nobility. If the English 
had mounted a pursuit, as they did at Poitiers, they would have 
accounted for many more, including the King himself. But 
this did not happen. On the Saturday they never once left 
their lines to pursue the enemy, but stayed on their positions 
to defend themselves against attack. 

Froissart insists again on the part played by the English archers, 
and repeats that a decisive factor was the discomfiture of the Genoese 
crosshowmen at the beginning, with the confusion into which this 
threw the French horsemen. He says his last word on the actual 
battle : 

However, among the English there were pillagers and 
irregulars, Welsh and Cornishmen armed with long knives, 
who went out after the French (their own men-at-arms and 
archers making way for them) and, when they found any 
in difficulty, whether they were counts, barons, knights or 
squires, they killed them without mercy. Because of this, 
many were slaughtered that evening, regardless of their rank. 
It was a great misfortune and the King of England was after- 
wards very angry that none had been taken for ransom, for 
the number of dead lords was very great. 

When night had fully come and no more shouting or 
whooping or rallying-cries could be heard, the EngUsh con- 
cluded that the enemy were routed and the field was theirs. 
So they Ut great numbers of lanterns and torches because it was 
very dark. King Edward, who had not put on his battle- 
helmet all that day, came down with his whole division to his 
son the Prince. He embraced him and said: *Dear son, God 
grant that you may long go on in this way. You are indeed 
my son, for you have done your duty most loyally this day. 
You have proved yourself worthy to rule a land.' The Prince 
bowed very low and humbly did honour to his father, as was 


BOOK ONE (1522-77) 

It was natural that the English should be filled with joy 
when they realized that they had won the day. They hailed it 
as a glorious victory and were full of praise for their leaders 
and veteran captains. And several times that night they gave 
thanks to God for showing them such great mercies. 

On the King's order there were no noisy celebrations, and 
the night passed quietly. When Sunday morning dawned 
there was a heavy mist, making it impossible to see farther 
than about fifty yards. So the King and his Marshals sent out a 
force of some five hundred men-at-arms and two thousand 
archers, who were to ride round and see if any of the French 
had reassembled. Levies of townsmen from Rouen and 
Beauvais had set out that morning from Abbeville and Saint- 
Riquier, knowing nothing of the previous day's defeat. 
To their misfortune they fell in with the EngHsh and went 
right up to them, thinking they were their own people. 
When the English recognized them, they charged down on 
them fiercely. There was a sharp engagement and the French 
were soon fleeing in disorder. More than seven thousand of 
them were killed in the open fields or under hedges and 
bushes. If the weather had been clear not a man would have 

Not long after, the English ran into another force led by the 
Archbishop of Rouen and the Grand Prior of France, who 
also knew nothing of the defeat and had heard that the King 
of France would not fight until that Sunday. These also mis- 
took the English for their own side and went towards them, 
and once again the English attacked lustily. There was an- 
other fierce engagement, for the two French lords had some 
good men-at-arms with them. But they could not hold out 
long and soon nearly all were killed, including the two leaders. 
No prisoners were taken for ransom. 

So the English rode about that morning looking for adven- 
tures. They came across a good many French who had lost 
touch with their leaders the day before and had slept out in 
the open. These met with short shrift at their hands, being all 
put to the sword. I was told that the number of levies from 
the cities and towns who were killed on that Sunday morning 



was over four times greater than the number who died in the 
main battle on the Saturday. 

The King of England was just coming away from mass 
when his horsemen and archers returned from their recon- 
naissance. They reported all they had seen and done and said 
that there was no sign that the French were re-forming. The 
King therefore decided to have the dead examined to find out 
what nobles had fallen. Two gallant knights, Sir Reginald 
Cobham and Sir Richard Stafford, were instructed to go out, 
taking with them three heralds to identify the dead by their 
arms and two clerks to write down their names. They were 
amazed at the number they found. They searched all the fields 
as thoroughly as they could, working on until late evening. 
Returning just as the King was about to go to supper, they 
gave him an exact report of what they had seen. Eleven 
princes lay dead on the field, eighty bannerets, twelve 
hundred ordinary knights and about thirty thousand other 
men. . . .^ 

The English remained there for that night and prepared to 
leave on the Monday morning. As an act of grace the King 
caused the bodies of all the chief nobles to be taken up and 
buried in consecrated ground in the nearby church at Main- 
tenay. He accorded the people of the district a three days' 
truce to go over the battlefield and bury the other dead. He 
then made for Montreuil-sur-mer, while his Marshals went 
towards Hesdin and burnt Waben and Beaurain. But the castle 
at the last place was too strong for them to do any damage to 
it. They camped that Monday by the river which runs through 
Hesdin, on the Blangy side, and went on towards Boulogne 
the next day. On their way they burnt Saint-Josse and Neuf- 
chatel, and then Etaples and Rue and the country round 

I, Froissart's total of 1,291 for the dead nobility is reasonably close to 
the figure of ' 1,541 good men-at-arms' given by an English eye-witness, 
Michael de Northburgh, in a letter written a few days after the battle. 
Northburgh gives no figure for what he calls 'the commons and foot- 
soldiers ', but Froissart's ' thirty thousand ' for these other ranks is usually 
considered to be at least three times too high. In the Amiens MS he has : 
'fifteen to sixteen thousand'. 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

Boulogne. They passed between the woods of Boulogne and 
the Forest of Hardelot until they came to the large town of 
Wissant. There the King, the Prince and the whole army took 
up their quarters and rested for one day. On the Thursday 
they left it and came before the fortified town of Calais. 


The Siege of Qalais {i^6-j) 

As soon as the King of England arrived before Calais, he be- 
gan in earnest to make full preparations for a regular siege. 
Between the town, the river and the bridge of Nieuley he had 
houses built of heavy planks, thatched with straw and brush- 
wood and set out in properly ordered streets, as though they 
were to be lived in for a dozen years. He was determined to 
stay there through winter and summer till Calais was his, 
without regard for the time and effort it might cost him. His 
new town had everything that an army could need and more, 
including a place to hold markets on Wednesdays and Satur- 
days. There were haberdashers and butchers' shops, stalls 
selling cloth and bread and all other necessities, so that almost 
anything could be bought there. All these things were 
brought over daily by sea from England and goods and food- 
stuffs were also supplied from Flanders. In addition, the Eng- 
lish made frequent raids on the surrounding country, going 
as far as the gates of Saint-Omer and Boulogne, and bringing 
back much plunder to replenish their stocks of food. The 
King made no assaults on Calais, for he knew that the effort 
would be wasted. Desiring to spare his men and artillery, he 
said that he would starve the place out, however long it took, 
unless King Philip of France came to fight him again and 
raise the siege. 

When Sir Jean de Vienne, the military commander of 
Calais, saw that the English were preparing for a long siege, 
he gave orders for all the poorer people, who had no stocks 
of provisions, to leave the town immediately. One Wednesday 
morning more than seventeen hundred of them, men, women 
and children, came out and tried to pass through the English 
army. When asked why they were leaving, they replied that 
they had nothing to live on. The King gave them permission 
to pass safely through and ordered that a hearty meal should 
be provided for them and that each should be given two 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

pence' This merciful act was highly praised, with good 

While Edward is besieging Calais, David II of Scotland invades 
England, but is defeated and taken prisoner at Neville^ s Cross. 
According to Froissart, Edward's queen, Philippa, accompanied the 
English armj to the battlefield, returning to Eondon after the victory 
with the prisoners. 

The Queen of England, soundly advised by her men, had 
the King of Scotland, the Earl of Moray and the other Scot- 
tish lords put in the Tower under close guard and then turned 
to her other business. What she particularly desired was to go 
over to Calais to see her husband the King and her son the 
Prince of Wales. She hurried on with her preparations and, 
embarking at Dover, had such a favourable wind that, thanks 
to God, she was soon across. As can be imagined, she was 
welcomed with joy and she and all her ladies were soon lodged 
as honourably and comfortably as if they had been in London. 
They had landed on 29 October. On All Saints Day the King 
held a court in honour of the Queen and gave a dinner for all 
his lords and especially for the ladies. A large number had 
come over, both to accompany the Queen and to see their 
fathers, brothers and friends who were at the siege. 

The siege went on for a long time and was the occasion for 
many fine exploits and feats of arms on land and sea, much to j 
numerous for me to record. The King of France had posted so 
many good fighting men in the fortresses lying on the borders 
of Guines, Artois and Boulogne, and around Calais, and he. 
kept so many Genoese, Normans and other sailors at sea, 
that when the English went out foraging or raiding they 
rarely had it their own way and often ran into fierce encoun- 
ters. There were also frequent skirmishes near the gates and 
moats of the town which always took their toll in killed and 
wounded. Sometimes one side would come off best, some- 
times the other, as is usual in this type of fighting. King Ed- 
ward and his council now gave much thought to the con- 
struction of various machines to harass the besieged, but 
against these the defenders of Calais took counter-measures 
I . Estrelins. See also note on p. 51. 



and were so successful that they suffered no damage from 
them. Since they could not be reduced in these ways, the only 
course was to starve them out. Supplies could only reach them 
clandestinely, and if they did so it was thanks to two master 
mariners called Marant and Mestriel, both from Abbeville. 
These two would slip boldly into Calais with their ships, often 
at great risk to themselves. They were often pursued and 
nearly caught between Boulogne and Calais, but they always 
escaped. Many of the English were killed or drowned in 
attempting to stop them. 

During the siege Edward finds time for -diplomacy . The Flemish 
burghers to the east still support him and, during his march from 
Normandy to Crecjy their forces have been active south of Calais, no 
doubt with the idea of eventually linking up with the English army. 
But they have fallen back after failing to take Bethune. The Flemish 
ruling house, however, is still at loggerheads ivith the burghers and 
supports the French. The Count of Flanders has been killed at Crecy 
fighting beside King Philip. His fifteen-year-old son and successor also 
favours the French and is prepared to marry the daughter of the Duke 
of Brabant, noiv a French supporter. King Edward proposes an 
English marriage instead and offers his daughter Isabella. Knowing 
that this would seal an Anglo-Flemish alliance, the burghers get 
the young Count into their power and try to force him to change his 

For a long time the young Count was in the hands of the 
Flemings, who kept him a prisoner, though in comfortable 
conditions. But he grew sick of this, for it was not what he 
was used to, and in the end he changed his attitude - whether 
sincerely or not I do not know - and told his people that he 
would do as they advised, since he had more to gain from them 
than from any other nation. At this they were delighted and 
released him. Some of his pleasures w^ere restored, such as free- 
dom to go hawking for waterfowl, a sport of which he was 
very fond. But he was followed everywhere by guards who 
were entirely favourable to the King of England and had 
sworn on their lives not to let him escape. They watched him 
so closely that he was hardly able to go and piss. This went 
on for some time, until the Count agreed with his people that 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

he would marry the King of England's daughter. The Flem- 
ings therefore invited the King and Queen, who were outside 
Calais, to come to the Abbey of Bergues and bring her with 
them. They would bring their young lord, and the marriage 
would be arranged. 

As may be imagined, the King and Queen were very pleased 
by this news and said that the Flemings were excellent people. 
A day was agreed by both parties for the meeting at Bergues, 
to which the most prominent notables from the Flemish 
towns came in great state with the young Count. He bowed 
courteously to the King and Queen of England who had 
already arrived with a large suite. The King took him gently 
by the right hand, complimenting him as he did so. Then he 
asked him to forgive him for the death of his father and said 
that, as God was his witness, he had neither seen nor heard 
anything of the Count of Flanders during the whole of the 
battle of Crecy, or the day after. The young Count appeared 
to be fairly well satisfied with this apology. 

They then discussed the marriage and drew up the various 
clauses of an agreement which all parties swore to observe. 
The Count was betrothed to the King of England's daughter. 
Princess Isabella, whom he promised to marry. The ceremony 
was postponed until a later date when they would have more 
leisure and the Flemings returned to Flanders with their lord 
and the English sovereigns to Calais. So things remained for a 
time. King Edward prepared to celebrate the wedding with 
great pomp and provided himself with costly jewels to be 
distributed on the day. The Queen did the same, for she was 
accounted the most gracious and bountiful lady of her time 
and she wished to be true to her reputation. 

After the young Count had gone home he still went hawk- 
ing and seemed to be very pleased at the prospect of the mar- 
riage. The Flemish were almost entirely reassured and no 
longer had him watched so closely. But they were far from 
understanding their young lord's mind, for in spite of his 
outward behaviour he was entirely French at heart, as he was 
soon to show. 

One day when he had gone out hawking near the river - 



it was in the very week when he was to marry the EngHsh 
princess - his falconer loosed a falcon at a heron and the 
Count did the same. As the two falcons flew after their prey, 
the Count rode in pursuit, shouting: 'O-ee! O-ee!' as though 
to lure them. When he had gone a little way and had open 
country before him, he clapped his spurs to his horse and 
galloped off, leaving his guards far beliind. He reached the 
province of Artois, where he was safe. From there he went to 
France to King Philip, to whom he told liis adventures and 
explained by what clever tricks he had escaped from his own 
people and the English. King Philip and the French said that 
he had done very well, but the English for their part said that 
he had betrayed them. 

However, the King of England continued to be friendly to 
the Flemish. He knew that the Count had not been acting on 
their advice and that they were greatly displeased by what he 
had done. He therefore easily accepted the apologies which 
they made to him. 

In the summer of i^4J King Philip gathers an army to relieve 
Calais, which is being steadily reduced by famine. His easiest way 
of approach would have been from the east, but the Flemings refuse to 
allow him to pass. He therefore follows much the same route as that 
which had led him to Crecj the year before and reaches the village of 
Sangatte, a few miles to the west of Calais : 

When the King of England saw that King Philip had come 
with such a large army to raise the siege of a place which had 
already cost him so dear in money, lives and personal hard- 
ship - and this at a time when he had it in so tight a grip that 
it could not hold out much longer - it went entirely against 
his will to abandon his prize. He reflected that the French 
army had only two ways of approach to Calais - either along 
the dunes bordering the sea, or over country full of dikes and 
swamps which could only be crossed by the single bridge of 
Nieuley. He therefore had all his ships brought in near the 
dunes and loaded with bombards, crossbowmen, longbow- 
men, siege catapults and such things, for fear of which 
the French army dare not and could not pass that way. On 
the bridge he posted his cousin the Earl of Derby with a large 

loi . 

BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

force of men-at-arms and archers, so blocking the only road 
across the marshes. 

Between the hill of Sangatte and the coast towards Calais 
there was a high tower guarded by thirty-two English archers 
which stood directly in the path of the French if they went 
over the dunes. It was strongly protected by big double 
ditches. The levies from the French towns saw this tower and 
the men of Tournay, who were a good fifteen hundred strong, 
advanced resolutely towards it. The archers who were inside 
shot at them, wounding a number. This only angered the 
men of Tournay and they went fiercely to the assault of the 
tower, forced their way across the ditches and reached the 
mound on which the tower stood with their picks and 
mattocks. Many more of the attackers were wounded in the 
struggle which followed, but they fought on until they had 
taken the tower. All those inside were killed and the tower 
demolished. Tliis was hailed in the French army as a great 

When his army was encamped on the hill of Sangatte, the 
French king sent forw^ard the Lord of Beaujeu and the Lord 
of Saint-Venant, who were Marshals of France at that time, 
to reconnoitre the best line of approach to the enemy. They 
made a thorough inspection of the country, then came back 
and told the King that they could see no way of reaching the 
English without suffering further heavy losses. So things 
remained for the rest of that day and the following night. 

After mass the next morning, King Philip sent four envoys, 
on the advice of liis council, to the King of England. They 
were Sir Geoffroy de Charny, Sir Eustache de Ribemont, Sir 
Guy de Nesle and the Lord of Beaujeu. With the Earl of 
Derby's permission they crossed the bridge of Nieuley and as 
they went they looked closely at its strong defences and 
formed a high opinion of the dispositions of the Earl and his 
men who were guarding it. They rode on unmolested, on 
King Edward's orders, until they came to where the King 
himself was waiting, surrounded by a large number of his 
knights. They immediately dismounted and bowed before the 



King, who received them fittingly. Sir Eustache de Ribe- 
mont, acting as their spokesman, then said: 

' Sire, the King of France has sent us to inform you that he 
has come to this place and halted on the hill of Sangatte with 
the intention of fighting you, but he cannot see any way by 
which to reach you. Yet he would dearly like to, in order to 
raise the siege of his loyal town of Calais. He sent out his 
marshals to try to discover some way of approaching you, 
but the thing is impossible. He would therefore take it as a 
favour if you would call your council together - and he would 
do the same - and, according to the decision they came to, 
agree on a spot where we could fight each other. Such is the 
message and request which we have been charged to bring 

After a brief consultation with his advisers, the King of 
England replied: 'My lords, I fully understand the request 
which you bring from my adversary, who is wrongly retain- 
ing possession of my lawful heritage, to my great displeasure. 
Kindly tell him from me that I have every right to be where 
I am and where I have been for nearly a year, as he must 
have known, and he could have come to me sooner if he had 
wished to. But he has let me stay for so long that I have spent 
my resources heavily and I believe I have now done enough 
to be shortly master of the town and castle of Calais. So I am 
not disposed to do very much to suit his plans and conveni- 
ence, or let slip the thing I have so strongly desired and 
bought so dearly. Tell him that if he and his men cannot get 
through that way, they must go on looking until they find 

The envoys take this answer back to King Philip, ivho receives it 
with anger and frustration. Two cardinals delegated by the Pope then 
intervene in an attempt to arrange general peace terms, but after three 
dajs negotiations break down on the question of the possession of Calais^ 
on which neither king ivill yield. The defenders of Calais, their pro- 
visions exhausted, look on helplessly at the comings-and-goings between 
the two stationary armies. Finally, King Philip gives up. 'Early one 
morning his army strikes camp and marches off. 

After the departure of King Philip and his army, the people 


BOOK ONE (1522-77) 

of Calais realized that the support on which they had been 
counting had failed them, and at the same time they were so 
weakened by hunger that the biggest and strongest among 
them could hardly stand. So they took counsel together and 
decided it would be better to throw themselves on the mercy 
of the King of England, if they could not obtain better 
terms, than to die one by one of starvation; for hunger might 
drive many of them frantic and cost them their souls with 
their bodies. They so entreated the Governor, Sir Jean de 
Vienne, to negotiate that at last he consented. He went on to 
the battlements and signalled to those outside that he wished 
to talk with them. When King Edward heard of this, he im- 
mediately sent out Sir Walter Manny and Lord Basset. They 
came to Sir Jean de Vienne and heard him say: 

'My dear lords, you are very gallant knights with much 
experience of war, and you know that the King of France 
whom w^e serve sent us to this place to hold the town and 
castle for as long as our honour and his interests might re- 
quire it. We have done everything in our power, but now our 
help has failed us and you are pressing us so hard that we have 
nothing left to eat. We must all die or go mad with hunger 
if the noble king whom you serve does not take pity on us. 
So I ask you, dear lords, to beg him humbly to have mercy on 
us and allow us to go away just as we are, taking for himself 
the town and citadel and all the things in them. He will find 
enough to satisfy him.' 

To this Sir Walter Manny replied: 'Sir John, Sir John, we 
know something of the intentions of our lord the King, for 
he has told us of them. We must warn you that it is not his 
purpose to let you go free as you suggest. His intention rather 
is that you should place yourselves entirely in his hands, to be 
ransomed or put to death as he chooses. The people of Calais 
have caused him so much trouble and vexation, have cost him 
so much money and so many lives, that you cannot wonder 
that he should be enraged against them.' 

Sir Jean de Vienne replied: 'It would be too hard for us to 
agree to such conditions. Inside here we are a little band of 
knights and squires who have served our master loyally to 



the best of our ability, as you would serve yours in the same 
case, and we have undergone many hardships and sufferings 
in so doing. But we would rather suffer more than any man 
has yet endured than consent that the humblest groom or 
servant in the town should be worse treated than the greatest 
among us. We beg you, in the kindness of your heart, to go 
back to the King of England and entreat liim to spare us. 
That would be a chivalrous act on your part. And we hope 
that his noble heart will move him to have pity on us.' 

Indeed, yes,' said Sir Walter Manny, 1 will do that will- 
ingly. Sir John. And I sincerely hope he will listen to me, 
for it will go better with all of you if he does.' 

The two English knights went off, leaving Sir Jean de 
Vienne standing on the battlements, for they were soon to 
return. King Edward was waiting for them at the entrance 
to his quarters, eager to have news of the state of Calais. 
With him were the Earl of Derby, the Earl of Northampton, 
the Earl of Arundel and several other English lords. His en- 
voys bowed and went up to him and Sir Walter Manny be- 

'Sire, we have seen the captain of Calais and have had a 
long conversation with him. It appears that he and his com- 
panions in arms as well as the citizens would be quite ready 
to surrender the town and castle and everything in them to you, 
on the sole condition that they were allowed to leave un- 

'Sir Walter,' the King answered, 'you know something of 
our intentions concerning Calais. What was your reply?' 

'Before God, sir,' said Sir Walter, 'I told them that you 
would agree to nothing, except that they should put them- 
selves entirely in your hands, to live or die as you chose. 
When he heard this. Sir Jean de Vienne admitted that they 
were on the point of starvation but said that rather than 
surrender on those terms they would sell their lives as dearly 
as men ever did.' 

'Sir Walter,' replied the King, 'there is not the slightest 
hope or prospect of my changing my mind.' 

Sir Walter Manny went closer to the King and reasoned 


BOOK ONE (1522-77) 

with him, saying, to help the defenders of Calais: 'My lord, 
you may well be mistaken, and you are setting a bad example 
for us. Suppose one day you sent us to defend one of your 
fortresses, we should go less cheerfully if you have these 
people put to death, for then they would do the same to us if 
they had the chance.' This argument did much to soften the 
King's heart, especially when most of his barons supported it. 
So he said: 'My lords, I do not want to be alone against you 
all. Walter, go back to Calais and tell its commander that this 
is the limit of my clemency : six of the principal citizens are 
to come out, with their heads and their feet bare, halters 
round their necks and the keys of the town and castle in their 
hands. With these six I shall do as I please, and the rest I will 

'My lord,' said Sir Walter, 'I will do as you say.' 

He went back to Calais to where Sir Jean de Vienne was 
waiting and told him what the King had said, adding that that 
was the most he could obtain. 'I am sure that is true,' said Sir 
Jean. ' Now I must ask you to be so good as to wait here while 
I report all this to the townspeople. It was they who sent me 
here to talk with you and they, I think, who must give you 
the answer.' 

Sir Jean left the battlements and went to the market-place, 
where he had the bells rung to summon the people together. 
They all came, men and women, eager to hear the news, though 
they were so weak with hunger that they could scarcely stand. 
When they were assembled, Jean de Vienne quietly repeated 
all that had been said, telling them that nothing more could 
be hoped for and asking them to consult together and give 
their answer quickly. When he had finished speaking they 
began to cry out and weep so bitterly that their lamentations 
would have moved the stoniest heart. For a time they were 
unable to say anything in reply and Sir Jean himself was so 
moved that he also was weeping. 

At last the richest citizen of the town, by name Master 
Eustache de Saint-Pierre, stood up and said: 

' Sirs, it would be a cruel and miserable thing to allow such 



a population as this to die, so long as some remedy can be 
found. To prevent such a misfortune would surely be an act 
of great merit in Our Saviour's eyes and, for my part, I should 
have such strong hopes of receiving pardon for my sins if I 
died to save this people that I wish to be the first to come for- 
ward. I am willing to strip to my shirt, bare my head, put the 
rope round my neck, and deliver myself into the King of 
England's hands.' 

When Master Eustache de Sainr-Pierre had said this, his 
hearers were ready to worship him. Men and women flung 
themselves at his feet weeping bitterly. It was indeed a pitiful 

Then another greatly respected and wealthy citizen, who 
had two beautiful daughters, stood up and said that he would 
go with his friend Master Eustache de Saint-Pierre. His name 
was Master Jean d'Aire. A third, called Master Jacques de 
Wissant, who owned a rich family estate, offered to accom- 
pany them. Then his brother. Master Pierre de Wissant, and 
a fifth and a sixth, said they would go, too. 

These six burghers stripped to their shirts and breeches 
there and then in the market-place, placed halters round their 
necks as had been stipulated and took the keys in their hands, 
each holding a bunch of them. Sir Jean de Vienne mounted a 
pony - for he could only walk with great difficulty - and led 
them to the gates. The men, women and children of Calais 
followed them weeping and wringing their hands. Sir Jean 
de Vienne had the gate opened and closed behind him, so that 
he stood with the six burghers between it and the outer 
barriers. He went to where Sir Walter Manny was waiting 
and said to him : 

' Sir Walter, as the military commander of Calais and with 
the consent of the poor people of this town, I deUver up to 
you these six burghers. I swear that they have been and are to 
this day the most honourable and prominent citizens of Calais, 
by reason of their personal characters, their wealth and their 
ancestry, and that they carry with them all the keys of the 
town and citadel. And I beg you, noble sir, to intercede with 
the King of England not to have these good men put to death.' 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

'I do not know,' said Sir Walter, 'what the King will decide 
to do with them, but I promise you that I will do all I can.' 

The barriers were then opened and Sir Walter Manny led 
off the six burghers, in the state I have described, straight to- 
wards the King's quarters, while Sir Jean de Vienne went 
back into the town. 

At that time the King was in his chamber with a large com- 
pany of earls, barons and knights. Hearing that the men of 
Calais were coming as he had ordered, he went out to the 
open space before his quarters, followed by his nobles and by 
great numbers of others who were curious to see them and 
learn what would happen to them. Even the Queen of Eng- 
land, who was far advanced in pregnancy, went out with her 
lord the King. When Sir Walter Manny arrived with the six 
burghers, he went up to the King and said : ' Sire, here is the 
deputation from Calais at your orders.' 

The King kept quite silent and looked at them very fiercely, 
for he hated the people of Calais because of the losses they 
had inflicted on him at sea in the past. The six burghers 
knelt down before him and, clasping their hands in supplica- 
tion, said : * Most noble lord and king, here before you are we 
six citizens of Calais, long established and wealthy merchants 
of the town. We surrender to you the keys of the town and 
the castle, to do with them as you will. We put ourselves as 
you see us entirely in your hands, in order to save the remain- 
ing inhabitants of Calais, who have already undergone great 
privations. We pray you by your generous heart to have 
mercy on us also.' 

None of the brave men present, lords, knights or men-at- 
arms, could refrain from shedding tears of pity when they 
heard this. It was indeed a moving sight to see men so humili- 
ated and in such mortal danger. 

But the King continued to glare at them savagely, his heart 
so bursting with anger that he could not speak. When at last 
he did, it was to order their heads to be struck off immediately. 

All the nobles and knights who were there begged the King 
to have mercy, but he w^ould not listen. Sir Walter Manny 
spoke up for them: 'Noble sire, curb your anger. You have a 



reputation for royal clemency. Do not perform an act which 
might tarnish it and allow you to be spoken of dishonourably. 
If you do not spare these men, the world will say that it was a 
cruel deed and that it was too harsh of you to put to death 
these honourable citi2ens who have voluntarily thrown them- 
selves on your mercy to save the others.' 

At this the King ground his teeth and said : ' That is enough, 
Sir Walter, my mind is made up. Let the executioner be sent 
for. The people of Calais have killed so many of my men that 
it is right that these should die in their turn.' 

Then the noble Queen of England, pregnant as she was, 
humbly threw herself on her knees before the King and said, 
weeping: 'Ah, my dear lord, since I crossed the sea at great 
danger to myself, you know that I have never asked a single 
favour from you. But now I ask you in all humility, in the 
name of the Son of the Blessed Mary and by the love you bear 
me, to have mercy on these six men.' 

The King remained silent for a time, looking at his gentle 
wife as she knelt in tears before him. His heart was softened, 
for he would not willingly have distressed her in the state 
she was in, and at last he said: 'My lady, I could wish you 
were anywhere else but here. Your appeal has so touched me 
that I cannot refuse it. So, although I do this against my will, 
here, take them. They are yours to do what you like with.' 

The Queen thanked him from the bottom of her heart, then 
rose to her feet and told the six burghers to rise also. She had 
the halters taken from their necks and led them into her apart- 
ment. They were given new clothes and an ample dinner. 
Then each was presented with six nobles and they were es- 
corted safely through the English army and went to live in 
various towns in Picardy. 

After King Edward had handed over the six burghers to 
the Queen, he called Sir Walter Manny and his two Marshals 
and said to them: 'Sirs, take these keys of the town and castle 
of Calais and go and assume possession of them. Take the 
knights who are there and make them prisoners or else put 
them on parole; they are gentlemen and I will trust them on 


BOOK ONE {llZZ-J-j) 

their word. All other soldiers, who have been serving there 
for pay, are to leave the place just as they are, and so is every- 
one else in the town, men, women and children, for I wish to 
repopulate Calais with pure-blooded English.' . . . 

Now in my opinion it is very sad to reflect on the fate of 
those great burghers and their noble wives and their hand- 
some children, who with their forefathers had been living for 
generations in Calais. There were many such on the day when 
it fell. It was harrowing for them to have to abandon their fine 
houses, their estates, their furniture and possessions; for they 
could take nothing away and they received no restitution or 
compensation from the King of France, for whose sake they 
had lost everything. I will say no more about them. They 
managed as well as they could, and the majority went to the 
town of Saint-Omer.i . . . 

When King Edward returned to London, he gave serious 
thought to the repopulation of Calais, sending there thirty- 
six wealthy and responsible citizens with their families, and 
more than three hundred other men of lesser standing. Their 
numbers grew continually because the King granted them 
such great liberties and privileges that many became eager to 
settle there. 

1 . It appears that many of the French inhabitants were either not dis- 
possessed, or were rc-admitted after a few weeks. One who was confirmed 
in his possessions and given a post of special responsibility was the heroic 
Eustache de Saint-Pierre. It is also established that Philip VI made efforts 
to compensate those who were expelled, by conferring various offices and 
rights upon them. 


^lack T>eath^ J'lagellants and Jews ^ {i^4P) 

In the Year of Grace 1349, the penitents went about, coming 
first out of Germany. They were men who did pubHc penance 
and scourged themselves with whips of hard knotted leather 
with little iron spikes. Some made themselves bleed very 
badly between the shoulders and some foolish women had 
cloths ready to catch the blood and smear it on their eyes, 
saying that it was miraculous blood. While they were doing 
penance, they sang very mournful songs about the nativity and 
passion of Our Lord. 

The object of this penance was to entreat God to put a stop 
to the mortality, for in that time of death there was an epi- 
demic of plague. People died suddenly and at least a third of 
all the people in the world died then. The penitents of whom 
I am speaking went in companies from town to town and 
from city to city and wore long felt hoods on their heads, each 
company with its own colour. Their rules forbade them to 
sleep more than one night in each town and the length of their 
goings-out was fixed by the thirty-three and a half years 
which Jesus Christ spent on earth, as the Holy Scriptures tell 
us ; each of their companies went about for thirty-three and 
a half days, and then they returned to the towns or castles 
from which they had come. They spent very little money on 
their journeys, because the good people of the towns which 
they visited asked them to dinner and supper. They slept only 
on straw; unless illness forced them to do otherwise. When 
they entered a house in which they were to dine or sup, they 
kneeled down humbly on the threshold and said three pater- 
nosters and three Ave Manas, and did the same when they 
left. Many reconciliations were achieved through the peni- 
tents as they went about, for instance, over killings which had 
taken place and about which it had so far been impossible to 
reach an accord; but by means of the penitents peace was made. 
I. From the Rome MS. 

BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

Their rules contained some quite reasonable and acceptable 
things which agreed with such natural human inclinations as 
to journey about and do penance, but they did not enter the 
Kingdom of France because Pope Innocent,' who was at 
Avignon at that time with his cardinals, considered the prac- 
tice and opposed it very strongly, declaring in condemnation 
of the penitents that public penance inflicted by oneself was 
neither right nor lawful. They were excommunicated for do- 
ing it, and especially those clergy who went with them. A 
number of priests, canons and chaplains who supported them 
were deprived of their benefices. Any who wished for absolu- 
tion had to go to Avignon to get it. So this movement was 
broken up and came to nothing when it was seen that the 
Pope and the King of France were against them, and they did 
not go beyond Hainault. If they had gone to Cambrai or 
Saint-Quentin, the gates would have been shut in their faces. 

As soon as the penitents appeared and the news of them 
spread round, the sect of the Jews contemplated and feared 
their own destruction, ^ for they had a prophecy made over 
two hundred years earlier which said in cryptic language: 
'Knights will come bearing links of iron who will be very 
cruel, but they will have no leaders and their power and their 
works will not extend beyond the Empire of Germany. But 
when they come, we shall all be destroyed.' Their prophecy 
came true, for in those days all the Jews were indeed de- 
stroyed, though more in one country than in another. The 
Pope, and the Kings of Castile, Aragon and Navarre, ac- 
cepted great numbers of them and laid them under tribute 
beneath them. 

1. Until 1352 it would be his predecessor, Clement VI. 

2. First version: 'At that time the Jews were taken and burnt every- 
where throughout the world, and their possessions seized by the rulers 
under whom they lived, except in Avignon and the domains of the Church 
beneath the protection of the Pope.' 

After this, one manuscript (B6) has the addition: 'for the Church does 
not hold that they should be put to death, because they would be saved if 
they were willing to return to' 


Sea battle off Winchelsea (i^jo) 

A T that time there was bitter feeling between the English and 
the Spanish on account of various acts of violence and plun- 
der which the Spaniards had committed against English ships 
at sea. So it happened that in the year 1350, while the Spanish 
were in Flanders for trading purposes, they were told that the 
English were intending to waylay them on their voyage back 
home. They were not greatly disturbed by the news, but 
equipped their ships, lying at Sluys, with all kinds of weapons 
and powerful artillery, and engaged all the mercenaries, 
archers and crossbowmen who were willing to serve them for 
pay. They went on with their purchases of goods, just as they 
had planned, and meanwhile waited for each other, so as to 
sail in one fleet. 

When King Edward, who had no love for them, heard of 
these warlike preparations, he said angrily: 'We have had 
long experience of Spanish ways. They have done us many 
wrongs and, far from making amends, they go on arming 
themselves against us. They must be intercepted on their 
way back.' His men readily agreed, sharing the same desire 
that the Spaniards should be fought. A special summons was 
sent out to all the gentry then in England and the King left 
London for Sussex, a county extending along the sea-coast 
between Southampton and Dover, opposite the districts of 
Ponthieu and Dieppe. He took up his quarters in an abbey 
overlooking the sea, to which the Queen herself accompanied 

At that date there came to join the King, at the place which 
I have just mentioned, that gallant knight Robert of Namur, 
who had recently returned to England. The King received 
him gladly and he was fortunate enough to take part in the 
expedition. As soon as King Edw^ard heard that the Spanish 
were preparing to pass through the Straits, he put to sea with 
a fine company of men-at-arms, knights and squires, and more 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

great nobles than had ever accompanied him on any previous 

In that year the King had created his cousin, Henry Earl of 
Derby, Duke of Lancaster, and had made the Baron of Staf- 
ford an Earl. So these two were with him in the enterprise, as 
were his two sons the Prince of Wales and John, Earl of 
Richmond.^ The latter was still too young to bear arms but 
the Prince, who was very fond of him, took him with him in 
his own ship. Also there were the Earls of Arundel, Northamp- 
ton, Hereford, Suffolk and Warwick, Sir Reginald Cobham, 
Sir Walter Manny, Sir Thomas Holland, Sir Louis de Beau- 
champ, Sir James Audley, Sir Bartholomew Burghersh, the 
Lords Percy, Mowbray, Neville, Clifford, Ros, Berkeley and 
many others. The King was also accompanied by four 
hundred knights. All these were now at sea on board the 
ships, armed and equipped to engage the enemy who, as they 
knew, would be making the passage very shortly. They 
waited at anchor for three days between Dover and Calais. 

After the Spaniards had completed their trading and had 
laden their ships with cloth, linens and all the goods which it 
seemed profitable to take back to their country, they em- 
barked at Sluys in the knowledge that the English were wait- 
ing for them. Together with the great quantity of projectile- 
throwers with which they had provided themselves, they had 
heavy iron bars specially made to hurl at ships and sink them, 
as well as piles of stones for the same purpose. When they 
saw that the wind was with them, they raised anchor. There 
were forty big ships all sailing together, so powerful and 
splendid that they made a beautiful sight. At the top of the 
masts were wooden castles loaded with stones of different 
sizes and manned by irregular soldiers to throw them. On the 
masts also were streamers bearing their various colours and 
emblems which waved and fluttered in the wind. If the Eng- 
lish were thirsting for a fight, they appeared to be even more 
so, and this proved to be the case, as you will hear. In men, 
these Spanish were at least ten to one, thanks to the mercen- 
aries they had hired in Flanders. They considered themselves 
I. The Black Prince and John of Gaunt. 


quite Strong enough to engage the King of England and all 
his might at sea. In this frame of mind they sailed on towards 
Calais, with the wind full astern. 

King Edward had already drawn up his fleet and decided 
how he wished to fight the battle, and he had appointed Sir 
Robert of Namur master of a ship called the Salle du Roi, on 
board of which was all his household equipment. He stood 
in the bows of liis own ship, wearing a black velvet jerkin and 
a black beaverskin cap which greatly suited him. On that day, 
I was told by some who were with him, he was in a gayer 
mood than he had ever been seen before. He told his minstrels 
to strike up a dance tune which Sir John Chandos, who was 
there beside him, had recently brought back from Germany. 
And out of sheer liigh spirits he made Sir John sing with 
the minstrels, to his own vast amusement. At the same time 
he kept glancing up at the mast, on which he had posted a 
look-out to espy the coming of the Spaniards. While the 
King was enjoying this gaiety and his knights were cheerful 
at seeing him so cheerful, the look-out shouted : ' Ship ahoy ! 
And she looks Hke a Spaniard.' The minstrels stopped play- 
ing, and the man was asked if he saw more than one. In a 
moment he answered: 'Yes, there are two, now three, now 
four.' And then, seeing the huge fleet, he shouted: 'There are 
so many, God help me, I can't count them! ' The King and his 
men realized that it must be the Spanish. The trumpets were 
sounded and the ships drew close together so as to be in battle 
order and more safely positioned. They were sure now that 
they would have their fight, since the Spaniards were coming 
in such strength. It was already late, somewhere about four 
o'clock. The King therefore had wine served to himself and all 
his knights. Then he and the others put on their battle-helmets. 

The Spanish were coming so fast that, had they wished, 
they could have sailed clean through without engaging. They 
were in big ships, well trimmed, with the wind astern, and 
need never have tangled with the English unless they wanted to. 
But such was their pride and confidence that they scorned to 
slip by without fighting. Instead, they prepared to give battle 
in earnest with their full strength. 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

When King Edward saw how things were shaping, he 
called to the helmsman of his ship : ' Steer at that ship straight 
ahead of us. I want to have a joust at it.' 

The seaman would never have dared to disobey the King's 
orders, so he put his helm towards the Spaniard which was 
bearing down on them rapidly with the wind. The King's 
ship was stoutly built and timbered, otherwise it would have 
been split in two, for it and the Spanish ship, which was tall 
and heavy, collided with a crash like thunder and, as they re- 
bounded, the castle of the King's ship caught the castle of the 
Spaniard with such force that the mast on which it was fixed 
broke and it was flung into the sea. The men in it were killed 
or drowned. The King's ship was so shattered by the collision 
that its seams cracked and water began to pour in. His 
knights did not tell the King of this yet, but set to work to 
bale out the water. Then the King, looking at the ship with 
w^hich he had jousted and which was lying before them, said: 
'Grapple my ship to that one. I w^ant to have it.' 'Let that 
one go,' his knights answered. 'You'll get a better one.' So 
that ship went on and another big one came up. The knights 
flung out hooks and chains and fastened their own ship to it. 
A fierce battle began between them, the English archers 
shooting and the Spanish defending themselves lustily, and 
soon the fighting had spread to a dozen different places. 
Wherever the English found themselves at close quarters, 
they threw out their grapnels and performed prodigies of 
valour. The advantage was by no means with them for, the 
Spanish ships being bigger and higher than theirs, they were 
able to shoot down at them and hurl the great iron bars which 
did considerable damage. 

The knights in the King of England's ship, seeing that it 
was making so much water that it was in danger of founder- 
ing, made desperate efforts to capture the ship to which they 
were grappled. They fought so well that in the end the Spani- 
ard was taken, and all the men on board it thrown into the sea. 
Only then was the King told of the danger they were in of 
sinking and urged to move into the ship they had just cap- 
tured. This he did, with his knights and all the others, leaving 



their own ship abandoned. They then prepared to continue 
the attack on the enemy vessels, which were making a stout 
fight of it and whose archers were wreaking particular havoc 
with the bolts from their powerful crossbows. 

This hotly contested sea-battle began late. The English 
therefore redoubled their efforts to finish the business and 
defeat their enemies before nightfall. Yet the Spanish, who 
are used to the sea and had better ships, did their utmost and 
never flinched. The young Prince of Wales and his company 
were engaged in another quarter. They were grappled and 
held fast by a big Spanish ship which inflicted great damage 
on them. Their ship was holed in several places, through 
which the water came pouring in. However fast they baled, 
they could not stop her from settling lower and lower. This 
filled the Prince's men with great anxiety and made them fight 
all the harder to take the Spanish ship. But it put up such a 
stout defence that they could not manage it. While they were 
in this perilous situation, the Duke of Lancaster came sailing 
alongside them. He saw that they were getting the worst of it 
and that their ship was in a dangerous state, for water was be- 
ing thrown out on every side. So he went round to the other 
side of the Spaniard, shouting : ' Derby to the rescue ! ' where- 
upon the Spanish were boarded and engaged so fiercely that 
they did not hold out for long. Their ship was taken and they 
were all thrown overboard with no quarter for any. The 
Prince of Wales and his men went on board, and hardly had 
they done so than their own ship sank. Then they realized 
fully the great danger they had been in. 

The English knights and barons were fighting in other 
places, following the plan of battle which had been made. 
They had need of all their strength and skill, for they were up 
against no weak enemy. For example, late in the evening, the 
ship carrying the King's household, commanded by Sir 
Robert of Namur, was grappled by a big Spanish ship and 
hotly engaged by it. In order to master the English ship at 
their leisure and capture both it and everyone in it, the 
Spaniards decided to carry it off with them. They hoisted their 
sails and moved forward with the wind, in spite of everything 


BOOK ONE (l^ll-J-/) 

that Sir Robert and his seamen could do. The Spaniard being 
the heavier and taller ship, its advantage was too great to be 

So linked together, they passed near the King's ship, and 
the English shouted: 'Rescue the Sa//e du KoH' But in the 
growing dark they were not heard, or if they were, they were 
not aided. It looked as though the Spaniards would carry them 
away as they pleased, when one of Sir Robert's men called 
Hanekin performed a notable feat of daring. With his drawn 
sword in his hand, he braced himself and sprang on board the 
enemy ship, forced his way to the mast, and cut the sail 
cable so that the sail sagged and no longer drew. Then he 
skilfully severed the four main ropes which stayed the mast 
and the sail, so that this collapsed and the ship came to a 

Seeing this. Sir Robert of Namur and his men leapt eagerly 
on board the Spaniard, with their swords drawn. They at- 
tacked its crew so heartily that they killed them all and threw 
them overboard, and captured the ship. 

I cannot describe all the brave deeds that were done there, 
but can only say that the battle was fierce and bitter as long 
as it lasted, and that the Spanish gave King Edward plenty of 
trouble. But finally the day was with the English. The Spanish 
lost fourteen ships, while the rest sailed on and escaped. When 
they had all passed and the English had no one left to fight, 
they sounded the retreat on their trumpets and set their course 
towards England, reaching land at Rye and Winchelsea a little 
after nightfall. 

At that same hour the King and his sons, the Prince and the 
Earl of Richmond, with the Duke of Lancaster and some of 
the barons who were there, disembarked, obtained horses in 
the town, and rode to the abbey where the Queen was staying 
only two miles away. She was overjoyed to see her lord and 
her children, for during that day she had suffered great 
anxiety. The whole battle had been watched from high 
ground on that part of the English coast, the weather being 
very fine and clear. The Queen had been told - for she insisted 
on knowing -that the Spanish numbered more than forty large 



ships. Hence her relief when she saw her husband and sons 

The night was passed in great rejoicings by the lords and 
ladies and in conversations on arms and love. The next day 
the greater part of the barons and knights who had been at 
the battle rejoined the King. He thanked them for their brave 
conduct and loyal service. Then they took their leave of him 
and returned each to his own home. 


The Siege of ^reteuil and the Poitiers 
Qampaign (i^J^) 

In the year of the sea-hat tie off Winchelsea, Philip VI of France died 
and was succeeded by John II, 'the Good'. Though there was a tem- 
porary lull in the war with 'England, the new King's internal diffi- 
culties were soon increased by the intrigues of his cousin, Charles 'the 
Bad\ King of Navarre, who had rival claims to the French throne. 
Farly in ijj6 Charles of Navarre was seized and put in prison, but 
his family and the vassals of his fiefs in Normandy continued to give 
trouble, in alliance with the English. The Duke of Eancaster led a 
small expedition to Normandy in support of them, but avoided battle 
when John the Good marched against him and retired on Cherbourg. 
The French King used his forces to capture Evreux, a stronghold of 
the Navarrese, then laid siege to Breteuil, another dependency of 
Charles the Bad. 

The French who were besieging Breteuil lost no time in 
devising various means of attack to wear down the garrison. 
In reply, those inside strove constantly to find ways of hitting 
back at them. The besiegers set up great engines to hurl 
missiles by night and day on to the roofs of the towers, which 
did much damage. The King of France also set numbers of 
carpenters to work at building a large 'belfry' or wooden 
tower with three storeys which could be moved about on 
wheels. Each storey could hold a good two hundred men, 
with enough room to use their weapons. This tower was 
provided with loopholes and padded with leather as a pro- 
tection against heavy bolts. Some called it a cat-house and 
others an assault-machine. While it was being constructed and 
made ready, the peasants of the district were ordered to bring 
up great quantities of wood and unload them in the moats, then 
to spread straw and earth on top so that the tower could be 
wheeled against the walls to assault the defenders. It was a 
full month before the moat was filled at the place where the 
attack was to be made. When everything was complete, a large 

1 20 


force of knights and squires who wanted to win distinction 
got into the tower which was then wheeled up to the 

The garrison had seen the tower being built and had formed 
a fairly clear idea of the French plan of attack. They had 
accordingly equipped themselves with cannons casting fire 
and big, heavy bolts of great destructive power. They made 
ready to assault the tower and defend themselves with great 
spirit. First, before using their cannons, they engaged in open 
combat with the men in the tower, lighting them hand-to- 
hand. Many fine feats-of-arms were performed. When they 
had had enough of this, they began to fire their cannons and 
to fling fire on top of the tower and inside it, and with it heavy 
volleys of their big bolts, by which many of the besiegers were 
killed and wounded and the others so harassed that they did 
not know which way to turn. The fire, which was Greek fire, 
set the roof of the tower alight, forcing the men in it to aban- 
don it hurriedly, to save themselves from being burnt to death. 
When the fighting men of Breteuil saw this, they raised a great 
cheer and began to shout : ' St George ! Loyalty and Navarre ! 
Loyalty!' And then they shouted: 'Well, you French, you 
didn't get us as easily as you thought you would! ' 

What was left of the tower remained in the moat, and no 
attempt was made to man it again. But the French worked on 
at filHng the rest of the moat, using fifteen hundred men to 
do nothing else every day. 

Meanwhile the Black Prince, now aged twenty -five, had sailed from 
Hngland to Bordeaux in the autumn of the previous year and had 
struck down towards the south-east with a combined force of 'English 
and Gascons. His object was to terrori:^e the districts which ivere in- 
clining towards the French and perhaps bring to battle King ]ohn*s 
lieutenant in l^anguedoc. Count Jean d'Armagnac. The expedition 
was a complete success in the way of punitive devastation and loot, but 
there was no battle of armies. After penetrating as far as Carcas- 
sonne and Narbonne the Prince returned to Bordeaux in December 
ijjj, and prepared for another strike northwards when the winter 
was over. 

While the King of France was besieging Breteuil, the Prince 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

of Wales left Bordeaux, where he had been all this time com- 
pleting his preparations for a campaign. He intended to make 
a foray far into French territory, and perhaps reach Normandy 
and the frontiers of Brittany to aid the Navarrese, for he was 
well aware that his father King Edward was in close alliance 
with the princes of Navarre and the Harcourt family. He set 
out on this occasion with two thousand men-at-arms and six 
thousand archers, including irregulars. With him in particular 
were all the barons and knights who had accompanied liim on 
the expedition to Carcassonne and Languedoc, and whom 
there is no need to name again here. 

The Prince and his men moved forward in good military 
order. They crossed the Garonne at Bergerac and then, enter- 
ing Rouergue, crossed the Dordogne.' In Rouergue they 
began to make war seriously, exacting ransom-money from 
towns and castles, or else burning them, taking prisoners and 
capturing supplies in quantity. The country was well stocked, 
but they left it broken and devastated behind them. Then they 
entered Auvergne, where they crossed and re-crossed the 
River Allier several times and found none to oppose them. 
From Limousin they chose a route to bring them to the rich 
and prosperous region of Berry and the River Loire. They 
found more than enough provisions for themselves, so burnt 
or otherwise destroyed what was left over. 

News of the Black Princess movements is brought to Breteuil to 
King John, who becomes impatient to end the siege. Terms of surrender 
are agreed upon. 

The defenders of Breteuil negotiated a surrender to the 
King of France, for the siege-engines, which were in action 
continuously, were inflicting great damage on them and they 
saw no sign of relief from any quarter. They knew that, if they 
were taken by assault, they would all be slaughtered without 
mercy. The King of France, for his part, was anxious to cam- 
paign against the English who were devastating his country, 
and was, moreover, thoroughly weary of being immobilized 
before that fortress to which he had brought sixty thousand 

I . Sic Froissart. But Bergerac is on the Dordogne. To enter Rouergue 
from there they presumably crossed the River Lot. 



men whom he was maintaining at great expense. He therefore 
agreed to spare their lives and let them go with whatever pos- 
sessions they could carry with them, but nothing more. The 
knights and squires of Breteuil withdrew to Cherbourg, as far 
as which the King gave them a safe-conduct. The King took 
possession of the castle and had it put into thorough repair. 
He then struck camp and returned towards Paris, but dis- 
missed none of his men-at-arms, since he expected to use them 

JLeavmg Pans, the King of ¥ ranee assembles a new and larger 
army at Chart res, at the same time reinforcing the garrisons of various 
fortresses to block off the English from the north. Meanwhile, the 
English reach Bourges, which they take, together with the nearby town 
of Vien^on, and there decide to turn west through Touraine and 
Poitou. Their plan is to make a destructive sweep through those pro- 
vinces and thence regain Bordeaux. They are noiv being shadowed by a 
Trench force of three hundred lances. These skirmish with a detach- 
ment of the English, who get the better of them and pursue the sur- 
vivors as far as Komorantin, ivhere they take refuge in the castle. 
The town itself is occupied without resistance. 

News reached the Prince that his men had been in action. 
He asked with whom and was told of the result of the engage- 
ment, and how his men had driven the enemy into the castle 
of Romorantin. *We will ride that way,' said the Prince. 'I 
would like to have a closer look at them.' The whole army 
set out in that direction and reached the town of Romorantin. 
This was now full of their own men, who were busy studying 
the best way to attack the castle. The Prince rode up to it in 
full armour, mounted on a black charger, with Sir John 
Chandos at his side. They too began to examine the castle and 
weigh it up, and they concluded that it could well be taken. 
The Prince called Sir John Chandos and said: 'John, go up 
to the barriers and speak to the knights inside there. Ask 
them if they would be ready to surrender quietly, without 
undergoing an assault.' 

Leaving the Prince, Sir John rode up to the barriers and 
made signs that he had something to discuss. The guards 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

inquired his name and asked who had sent him. He told them 
who he was and said that he had come from the Prince. They 
took all this information to their commanders. Lord Bouci- 
caut and the Hermit of Chaumont came down to the barriers, 
where Sir John saluted them and said: 

'Sirs, I have been sent to you by the Prince, who is willing 
to make you what I think is a very generous offer. He says 
that, if you will become his prisoners and surrender this for- 
tress which is not defensible, he will spare your lives and give 
you the most honourable treatment.' 'Sir John,' replied Lord 
Boucicaut, 'very many thanks to the Prince for his generous 
offer, but we do not feel disposed to accept it. God forbid that 
he should capture us so easily.' 'What, Lord Boucicaut,' said 
Sir John, 'do you think yourselves such splendid knights that 
you can hold this fortress against the Prince and his army, 
with no prospect of relief from any quarter?' 'Chandos, 
Chandos,' replied Boucicaut, 'I don't consider myself a splen- 
did knight, but we should be crazy to accept the kind of terms 
you are offering, and crazier still to give ourselves up when 
there is as yet no need for it. Please tell my lord the Prince to 
do whatever he thinks best, and we will await him here in all 

Sir John Chandos left them and returned to the Prince, to 
whom he related the whole of this conversation. When the 
Prince learnt of Lord Boucicaut's reply, he thought none the 
less of him for it and gave orders for his men to take up quar- 
ters for the rest of that day and the night. He proposed to 
attack the fortress on the following day and see if he could 
take it by assault. 

Early the next morning, all his fighting men armed them- 
selves, including the archers. They assembled under their 
banners and began a fierce assault on the castle. The archers 
stood along the banks of the moat, shooting so steadily that 
the defenders hardly dared to show themselves on the battle- 
ments. Others launched out on doors and hurdles with picks 
and mattocks, or bows and arrows, in their hands. Reaching 
the foot of the wall, they hacked and hammered away at it. 



Up above were the Lord of Craon, Lord Boucicaut and the 
Hermit of Chaumont, heading a lusty defence. They hurled 
down stones and flints and pots of quicklime, which inflicted 
terrible wounds on those they fell upon. Among those killed 
on the English side was a fine Gascon squire called Raymond 
de Zedulach, belonging to the Captal de Buch's troop, whose 
death was greatly regretted. The assault went on the whole 
day, with hardly any respite, until finally the attackers with- 
drew to their quarters, where the whole tended the wounded, 
and so they passed the night. 

The assault is renewed the next day even more fiercely, hut without 
success. The Black Prince grows impatient at his losses and expresses 
his determination to capture the castle and its defenders unconditionally. 

So they attacked more heavily on every side to gain their 
objective, and because the Prince had spoken so strongly. 
Some of the wiser men-at-arms reflected that they were striv- 
ing in vain and letting their men be killed and wounded to no 
purpose, since they would never take the castle just by shoot- 
ing arrows and hurling stones. They therefore ordered can- 
nons to be brought forward to shoot bolts and Greek fire into 
the courtyard. If the fire caught there, it might well spread to 
the roofs of the castle towers, which were thatched with straw 
at that time. Unless this tactic succeeded, they could not see 
any way of taking the castle and the knights who were de- 
fending it. 

Accordingly, fire materials were brought up and shot from 
bombards and cannons into the courtyard, where they caught 
and spread so rapidly that everything began to burn. The fire 
reached the thatched roof of a big tower in which were the 
three knights who had fought so gallantly on that and the 
previous day. When they saw the fire above their heads and 
realized that they must either surrender or perish where they 
stood, their confidence deserted them. They came down 
hurriedly and surrendered to the Prince unconditionally. Had 
they not done so, he would have refused them, because of the 
strong and angry words which he had spoken. So the Prince 
had these knights as his prisoners and made them ride on with 
him, together with several other gentlemen who had been in 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

the castle of Romorantin. The castle itself was left burnt, 
ruined and empty. The Prince's men plundered and carried 
off everything they found there and in the town. 

The Prince moves in a south-westerly direction through Touraine, 
still devastating the country. King John leaves Chart res and advances 
south through Blois, A.mhoise and L.oches to La Haje-en-Touraine, 
collecting more men on the ivay. Independently, the Cardinal de 
Perigord, who had been dispatched by the Pope on a so far fruitless 
peace mission to the King of France, travels to Poitiers in the hope of 
averting a clash between the two armies. 

News reached the King of France that the Prince of Wales 
was forcing the pace to get back to the district from which 
he had started. The King, who desired above all things to 
bring him to battle, began to fear that he would escape him. 
He therefore left La Haye-en-Touraine, followed by all his 
army, and rode on to Chauvigny, which was reached on the 
evening of Thursday, 15 September 1356. A large number of 
his nobles lodged in the town of Chauvigny itself, and others 
outside in a big meadow bordering the river. The next day, 
after his morning drink, the King crossed the bridge of 
Chauvigny expecting to find the English before him, but they 
were not there. In all, sixty thousand horsemen crossed the 
river at that point during the day in pursuit of the English, 
while many others crossed it at Chatellerault. As soon as they 
were over, they took the road to Poitiers. 

For their part, the Prince and his men knew nothing of the 
enemy's movements and had no means of knowing. They had 
of course heard that they had taken the field, but they had no 
idea of their exact whereabouts, beyond supposing that they 
were not far off, because their own foragers were unable to 
find supplies ; as a result of this the army was very short of 
food. Many regretted the wanton destruction they had 
wrought in Berry, Anjou and Touraine and their neglect to 
stock up more fully with provisions. 

On the Saturday, a scouting detachment of the English clash with a 
contingent of French who have lagged behind the main army. Prisoners 
are taken, fro f?i ivhom the Prince discovers where the enemy is. 

When the Prince and his commanders learnt that the King 



of France was in front of them with his army, having crossed 
the bridge at Chauvigny on the Friday, so making it impos- 
sible for them to leave the district without fighting, they 
closed up and came to a halt in the open fields. Orders were 
given by the Prince that without special authority no one was 
to ride out ahead of the Marshals' banners, on pain of death. 
This order was strictly observed and the English rode on for 
the whole of that day until they were within four miles of 
Poitiers. Then four knights, the Captal de Buch, Sir Aymon 
de Pommiers, Lord Bartholomew Burghersh and Sir Eustace 
d'Aubrecicourt, were detailed to lead a reconnoitring force of 
two hundred men in armour, all mounted on excellent horses. 
These rode forward until they obtained a view of the King's 
main division, and saw all the country around covered with 
men-at-arms. They could not resist charging into the rear of 
the French. They felled some to the ground and took pro- 
mises of ransom from others, until the main army began to be- 
stir itself to attack them. News of this was brought to the King 
of France, just as he was about to enter the city of Poitiers. 

When he knew the truth - that his enemies, whom he was 
so eager to meet, were behind him and not ahead - he was 
highly pleased. He reined round and ordered his whole army 
to turn about well outside the town and take up quarters in the 
open country. It was late at night before they were all settled. 
The Prince's scouts went back to him and described a part of 
the French forces, saying that there were an inordinate lot of 

The Prince was in no way disturbed by this, but said: ' May 
God be with us! Now we must consider how to fight them 
to the best advantage.' That night the English encamped in a 
strong position, among hedges, vines and bushes. They set a 
strong guard to keep careful watch, as did the French on their 

The next morning the French prepare for battle, organising their 
army in three main divisions, each, according to Froissart, numbering 
sixteen thousand men. Four knights are sent out to reconnoitre the 
English force. Thej return to the King and make their report. 

'Sire,' said Sir Eustace de Ribemont, acting as spokesman 


BOOK ONE (1522-77) 

for the others, as they had asked him, 'we have seen and ob- 
served the English. We would estimate their numbers at two 
thousand men-at-arms, four thousand archers, and fifteen 
hundred light-armed men.' 'And how are they disposed?' 
asked the King. ' Sire,' repUed Sir Eustace, ' they are in a very 
strong position and, although we are convinced that they have 
only one division, it is extremely skilfully placed. They have 
chosen a length of road strongly protected by hedges and 
bushes, and they have lined the hedge on both sides with their 
archers, so that one cannot enter that road or ride along it 
without passing between them. Yet one must go that way 
before one can fight them. There is only one way in and out of 
that hedge, through which perhaps four men-at-arms could 
ride abreast, the same as along the road.' At the end of the 
hedge, among vines and thorn-bushes between which it would 
be impossible to march or ride, are their men-at-arms, all on 
foot, and they have placed their archers in harrow-formation ^ 
in front of them. It is a very skilful piece of work in our 
opinion, for if one wants to engage them by force of arms, the 
only way in is between those archers, whom it will not be easy 
to overcome.' 

'Well, Sir Eustace,' said the King, 'how would you advise 
proceeding ? ' 

' Sire,' replied the knight, 'with everyone on foot, except for 
three hundred of the most vigorous and experienced knights 
in your army, mounted on first-rate horses, to break through 
those archers and scatter them. And then your formations of 
men-at-arms would follow quickly on foot and engage their 
men-at-arms hand-to-hand. That is the best plan I can think of, 
but if anyone knows of a better, let him say so.' 

The King thoroughly approved of this suggestion and said 
he would act on it. 

1 . All authorities on the battle assume that the ' hedge ' ran frontally to 
the two armies, while the ' road ' passed through a gap in it and led to the 
main English body positioned, dismounted, in the rear. From Froissart's 
account alone, however, it would be equally possible that the hedge was 
a double one, lining each side of the road at right angles to the French 
line of advance. 

2. See p. 87 above. 



On his orders, accordingly, the two Marshals set out and, 
riding from division to division, they made a choice of three 
hundred knights and squires, the toughest and best fighters of 
the whole army, all fully equipped and mounted on superb 
horses. Immediately afterwards the battalion of the Germans 
was formed. Led by the Counts of Saarbruck, Nidau and 
Nassau, this was to remain on horseback to support the 

King John of France was there, with nineteen others bear- 
ing similar arms.^ He had placed his eldest son (the Duke of 
Normandy) in the charge of the Lord of Saint- Venant, Sir 
Jean de Landas and Sir Thibaut de Voudenay and his three 
younger sons, Louis, Jean and Philippe, in the care of other 
good knights and squires. The King's sovereign banner was 
carried by Sir Geoffroy de Charny, as the wisest and bravest 
knight of them all. Sir Regnault de Cervoles, known as the 
Archpriest, wore the arms of the young Count of Alencon. 

When the King's forces were mustered and armed, with 
each commander among his men under his own banner, and 
each fully aware of the part he had to play, orders were given 
for everyone to dismount, except those who had been chosen 
by the Marshals to break through the archers. All who had 
lances were to cut them down to a length of five feet, in order 
to make handier weapons of them, and they were also told to 
take off their spurs. These orders were obeyed to the letter, 
for everyone accepted them as right and proper. 

Just as they were about to advance, to all appearances eager 
to engage the enemy, the Cardinal de Perigord came riding up, 
spurring and lashing his horse towards the King. He had 
left Poitiers in the early morning, and he now bowed humbly 
before the King and begged him with uplifted hands, in the 
name of Almighty God, to hold off for a moment until he 
had had a word with him. King John, who was accessible to 
any reasonable request, consented and said : ' Willingly. What 
do you wish to say ? ' 

'My very dear lord,' said the Cardinal, *you have with you 
I. A practice sometimes adopted to confuse the enemy. 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

here the whole cream of your kingdom's nobility, pitted 
against what in comparison is a mere handful of the English. 
If you could overcome them without a fight by accepting their 
surrender, it would redound more to your honour and advan- 
tage than if you risked this large and splendid army in battle. 
I therefore beg you humbly, in the name of God, to let me ride 
over to the Prince and persuade him of the great peril he is 

To this also the King consented, saying: ' Sir, we agree, but 
do not be too long about it.' 

Upon this, the Cardinal went hurriedly over to the Prince of 
Wales, whom he found standing among his men in the thickest 
part of a vineyard, awaiting the French attack with every sign 
of confidence. Having dismounted and bowed to him, the 
Cardinal said: 'I am sure, my son, that if you had seen the 
King of France's army and formed a correct idea of its size, 
you would allow me to try to arrange terms between you, 
if it is at all possible.' The Prince, who was still a young man, 
answered: ' Sir, subject to the honour of myself and my men, 
I would be ready to listen to any reasonable proposal.' 'My 
son,' said the Cardinal, 'that was well said. I will bring you to 
an agreement if I can. It would be a thousand pities if all these 
fine men here, on both sides, were to meet in battle. Too much 
misery could come of it.' 

Without saying more, the Cardinal returned to the King of 
France and began to work out grounds for agreement and put 
forward suggestions, saying to the King, in order to make him 
more amenable : ' Sire, you need be in no great hurry to fight 
them. You can have them all without striking a blow, for they 
cannot retreat or escape you. So I beg you to forbear for this 
one day and grant them a truce until sunrise tomorrow.' 

On hearing this, the King became thoughtful and at first 
refused the Cardinal's repeated requests for a truce, for some 
of his council were against it - in particular Sir Eustace de 
Ribemont and Sir Jean de Landas, who were very close to 
him. But the Cardinal, sparing no efforts in a good cause, 
begged and exhorted him so fervently that at last he gave in 
and agreed to a truce until the next morning. This decision was 



quickly carried by the Cardinal to the Prince and his men, who 
found it not unwelcome because they were continually im- 
proving their dispositions and their battle-plan. 

The King caused a tent of vermilion silk, very elegantly 
and richly made, to be pitched in the fields on the same spot 
where he had granted the truce, then dismissed all his men to 
their quarters except for the battalion of the Constable and 
the Marshals. He also kept with him his sons and the most 
important m^embers of his family on whom he depended for 

During the whole of that Sunday the Cardinal rode to and 
fro from one to the other, and would gladly have brought 
them to an agreement had it been possible, but he found the 
King and his council so unyielding that they refused to 
negotiate unless four-fifths of all the English became their 
prisoners and the Prince and his men surrendered uncondi- 
tionally, which they would never have done. There were 
many discussions and offers, and various proposals were made. 
I was told some time ago by followers of the Cardinal, who 
were present on that occasion and certainly thought they 
knew something about it, that the Prince offered to restore 
to the King of France everything he had taken on that cam- 
paign, towns and castles, to hand over all his prisoners, and 
to swear not to take up arms against France for the next seven 
years. But the King and his council would not hear of it. 
They insisted on this as their final condition: that the Prince 
and a hundred of his own knights should become the King's 
prisoners, in return for letting the others go; but this was a 
stipulation which the Prince and his council would never have 

During the truce, knights from both sides ride aboi. examining 
the other army. Among the English who do this is Sir John Chandos. 

Just as Sir John Chandos had ridden round observing part 
of the French dispositions, so one of the French Marshals, Sir 
Jean de Clermont, had gone out reconnoitring the English. 
In doing this, it so happened that their paths crossed and that 
some strong words and very ugly insults were exchanged. I 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

will tell you why. These knights, who were young and in love 
- for that must certainly have been the explanation - were 
both wearing on their left arms the same emblem of a lady 
in blue embroidered in a sunbeam. They always wore this on 
their outer garment, whether they were in armour or not. Sir 
Jean de Clermont was by no means pleased to see his emblem 
on Sir John Chandos and he pulled up dead in front of him 
and said: 'I have been wanting to meet you, Chandos. Since 
when have you taken to wearing my emblem?' *And you 
mine?' said Sir John. 'It is just as much mine as yours.' 'I 
deny that,' said Sir Jean de Clermont, 'and if there were not a 
truce between us, I would show you here and now that you 
have no right to wear it.' 'Ha,' replied Sir John, 'tomorrow 
morning you will find me more than ready to prove by force 
of arms that it belongs to me as much as to you.' 

With these words, they each turned away, but Sir Jean de 
Clermont shouted, as a further provocation: 'That's just the 
sort of boast you English make. You can never think of any- 
thing new yourselves, but when you see something good you 
just take it!' 

Nothing more was said or done for the moment. Each went 
back to his own army and the matter was left at that. 

Having achieved nothing by his attempts at mediation be- 
tween the two sides, the Cardinal de Perigord returned to 
Poitiers late on the Sunday evening. The French also with- 
drew to their quarters and made themselves comfortable over 
a good meal. They had plentiful supphes of provisions, 
whereas the English were extremely short. It w^as this which 
troubled them most, for they were hemmed in so closely that 
they could not send out foragers, nor could they move from 
there without exposing themselves to the French. It is fair to 
say that they had much less fear of a battle than of being 
pinned down where they were and starved out like a be- 
leaguered garrison. 

During the whole of that Sunday they applied themselves to 
the business in hand and made the best use they could of the 
time. The archers strengthened their position by digging 



trenches and setting up obstructions round them. On the 
Monday morning the Prince and his men were quickly ready 
for battle again, as also were the French. At about sunrise 
the Cardinal reappeared and made another attempt to recon- 
cile the two sides, but in vain. The French told him angrily to 
go back to Poitiers, or wherever else he liked, and to bring 
no more peace proposals, or it might be the worse for him. 
The Cardinal, who had been inspired in all his efforts by the 
best intentions, nevertheless did not want to endanger him- 
self. He took his leave of the King of France and, going over 
to the Prince of Wales, said to him: 'My son, do your best. 
You will have to fight. I cannot see that the King of France 
has the slightest desire to reach an agreement with you.' 

This last remark only irritated the Prince and strengthened 
his resolution. He replied: 'That is just what we mean to do, 
and may God defend the right!' 

The Cardinal then rode off towards Poitiers, but among his 
followers were some warlike squires and men-at-arms who 
favoured the King rather than the Prince. When they saw that 
there would be a battle, they stole away from their master and 
joined the French army, choosing as their leader the Castellan 
of Amposta, an experienced soldier who was attached at that 
time to the Cardinal's household. The Cardinal knew nothing 
of this until he was back in Poitiers. If he had known, he 
would never have allowed it, since he had tried to be an im- 
partial mediator between both sides. 

The battle-order of the English was exactly as the four 
French knights had reported it on the Sunday morning, except 
that since then they had detailed some of their best knights to 
remain on horseback to counter the battalion of the French 
Marshals, and in addition had placed on their right wing, on 
a gently sloping hill, three hundred mounted men-at-arms and 
the same number of mounted archers. These were to ride 
right round the hill under cover and to make a flank attack 
on the Duke of Normandy's division which was drawn up on 
foot beneath it. These were the only changes they had made. 
The Prince waited among the vines with his main body, all 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

of them fully armed and with their horses near at hand, ready 
to be mounted at once if necessary. On the most exposed side, 
by which alone they could be approached, they were pro- 
tected by the baggage-wagons and the equipment. 

Froissarl gives a list of the principal knights^ Hnglish, Gascons 
and others^ who were with the Prince^ and adds that whereas the Eng- 
lish strength, all told, was only eight thousand the French had at least 
fifty thousand men, including three thousand knights. 

Having exhorted his men to fight bravely, the Prince gives permis- 
sion to two of his knights, James A.udley and Fust ace d"* A.uhrecicourt 
{a Hainaulter), to ride out and make the first attack on the enemy. 

I related earlier, when describing the battle-order of the 
French, that the Germans who were on the flank of the 
Marshals all remained mounted. Sir Eustace d'Aubrecicourt 
lowered his lance and gripped his shield and spurred his horse 
out between the armies. A German knight called Sir Louis 
de Recombes, whose arms were argent, five roses gules, while 
Sir Eustace's were ermine, two humets gules, came out from 
the Count of Nassau's detachment to which he belonged, and 
lowered his lance to meet him. They hit each other at full 
speed and were both unhorsed, but the German was wounded 
in the shoulder and could not get up as quickly as Sir Eustace. 
When the latter was on his feet, he grasped his lance and 
rushed at his fallen opponent, full of determination to press 
home the attack. But he had no chance of doing so, for five 
German men-at-arms leapt upon him and bore him to the 
ground. He was so overpowered, lacking support from his 
own men, that he was captured and taken to the Count of 
Nassau's people, who paid little attention to him just then. 
I do not know whether or not he made a formal surrender, but 
they tied him on a baggage-cart with their spare gear. 

Very soon after Sir Eustace d'Aubrecicourt's capture, the 
fighting became general. The Marshals' battalion had already 
advanced for action, headed by the men who were to break 
through the ranks of the archers. All on horseback they 
entered the road which had the thick hedge on either side. 
No sooner were they engaged in it than the archers began to 



shoot murderously from both flanks, knocking down horses 
and piercing everything before them with their long barbed 
arrows. The injured and terrified horses refused to go on. 
They swerved or turned back, or else fell beneath their riders, 
who could neither use their weapons nor get up again, so that 
the battaUon of the Marshals never got near the Prince's 
division. A few of the best mounted knights and squires did 
force their horses past and broke through the hedge, but these 
also failed to reach the Prince. 

One of the French Marshals, Arnoul d^ Atidrehem, clashes with the 
English captain. Sir James A.ndlej. He is wounded and taken 

Meanwhile, the other Marshal of France, Sir Jean de Cler- 
mont, fought most gallantly beneath his banner for as long as 
he could hold out, but at last he was felled never to rise again, 
or to be spared for ransom. There he died in the service of 
his King ; and some attributed this to the angry words he had 
exchanged the day before with Sir John Chandos. Rarely 
have skilled fighting-men suffered such losses in so short a 
time as were inflicted on the battalion of the Marshals, for 
they became jammed against each other and could make no 
headway. Seeing the carnage and unable to advance them- 
selves, those behind turned back and ran up against the Duke 
of Normandy's division, whose ranks were close and numer- 
ous in front. But the rear ranks soon began to melt away when 
they learnt that the Marshals had been defeated. Most of them 
took to their horses and rode off, for the English detachment 
wliich had ridden round the hill with their mounted archers 
in front of them charged in and took them on the flank. If the 
truth must be told, the English archers were a huge asset to 
their side and a terror to the French; their shooting was so 
heavy and accurate that the French did not know where to 
turn to avoid their arrows. So the EngUsh kept advancing and 
slowly gaining ground. 

When the Prince's men-at-arms saw that the Marshals' 
battalion was routed and that the Duke of Normandy's divi- 
sion was wavering and beginning to break up, their strength 


BOOK ONE (1522-77) 

flooded back to them and their spirits rose. They made for 
their horses which they had kept near them and scrambled on 
to them. Having quickly mounted, they all came together and 
began to shout: *St George! Guyenne!' the more to confuse 
the enemy. It was then that Sir John Chandos made this great 
and memorable remark to the Prince: *Ride forward, sir, 
victory is yours ! Today you will hold God in your hand. Let 
us make for your adversary, the King of France, that's where 
the real business lies. I know he is too brave to run away, so 
he can be ours, with the help of God and St George, but only 
if we tackle him. You said just now that you would show how 
well you can fight.' These words fired the Prince and he 
answered: *Come on, John, come on. You won't see me 
hanging back. It's forward now.' Then he called to his 
banner-bearer: 'Advance, banner, in the name of God and 
St George!' 

The banner-bearer did as the Prince commanded and soon 
they were in the thick of the fighting. Many men were un- 
horsed, with little chance of getting up again unless they were 
helped by others. As the Prince with his banner-bearer was 
riding into the enemy followed by his men, he glanced right 
towards a small bush and saw under it the dead body of Sir 
Robert de Duras with his banner beside him - it was a French 
banner with a red saltire - and a dozen of his followers lying 
around. The Prince called to two of his squires and three 
archers and said to them: *Put the body of that knight on a 
shield and carry it to Poitiers. Take it from me to the Cardinal 
de Perigord and say that I have sent it him with my compli- 
ments.' The men made haste to carry out the Prince's orders. 

Now some would say that he had acted in mockery, but I 
will tell you what moved him to do this. He had already learnt 
that some of the Cardinal's people had stayed on the battle- 
field to fight on the other side, which was quite improper ac- 
cording to all the rules of war. Those who belong to the 
Church and attempt in good faith to mediate between two 
sides should not take up arms in favour of either, for obvious 
reasons. It was because these had done so that the Prince was 
indignant with the Cardinal and sent him his nephew's body, 



as just related. He also wanted to behead the Castellan of 
Amposta, who was taken prisoner, and would certainly have 
done so in his anger, if Sir John Chandos had not stopped 
him by saying : ' Sir, be patient and wait till you know more 
about this. Perhaps the Cardinal will give such good excuses 
for his people that you will be satisfied.' So the Prince went 
on, leaving orders for the Castellan to be kept under close 

After the Marshals' battalion had been irrevocably defeated 
and the Duke of Normandy's division had begun to break up, 
and many in it who ought by right to have stayed fighting 
had taken to their horses to escape, the English, now all 
mounted, made straight for the battalion of the Duke of 
Athens, Constable of France. There followed a great melee, 
in which many were unhorsed. French knights and squires 
fighting in groups raised their cry of 'Montjoie Saint-Denis! ' 
while the English shouted : ' St George ! Guyenne ! ' Prodigies 
of valour were performed, for down to the humblest they 
were worthy men-at-arms. Next, the Prince and his men 
clashed with the German battalion led by the Counts of 
Saarbriick, Nassau and Nidau. These did not last long, but 
were soon beaten and put to flight. 

No one could face the heavy, rapid fire of the English 
archers, who in that encounter killed and wounded many who 
found no chance of offering ransoms or pleading for mercy. 
But the three Counts just mentioned were taken prisoner in a 
fairly regular manner, while many of their knights and squires 
were killed or captured. In this engagement Sir Eustace 
d'Aubrecicourt was rescued by men who knew that he had 
been captured by the Germans and went looking for him, 
Sir Jean de Ghistelles in particular. He was found and put on 
a horse and went on to do great deeds that day, taking and 
ransoming some important prisoners who later brought him 
in considerable sums which contributed greatly to his 

When, as I have said, the Duke of Normandy's division 
saw the Prince's forces approaching after the defeat of the 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

Marshals and the Germans, most of them were demorahzed 
and thought only of flight. Among them were the King's 
own sons, the Duke of Normandy, the Count of Poitiers and 
the Count of Touraine, who were very young and inexperi- 
enced at that time and easily influenced by their advisers. 
Only Sir Guichard d'Angle and Sir Jean de Saintre, who were 
attached to the Count of Poitiers, refused to flee and charged 
into the thick of the battle. But the three princes made off, 
as they had been advised, and with them more than eight 
hundred lances, complete and unblooded, who took no part 
in the fighting. They went off in the direction of Chauvigny. 

You read earlier in this chronicle about the Battle of Crecy, 
and heard how unfavourable fortune was there to the French. 
At Poitiers similarly it was unfavourable, fickle and treacher- 
ous, for the French were at least seven to one in trained 
fighting-men. But it must be said that the Battle of Poitiers 
was fought much better than Crecy. Both armies had greater 
opportunities to observe and weigh up the enemy, for the 
Battle of Crecy began without proper preparation in the late 
afternoon, while Poitiers began in the early morning, and in 
good enough order, if only luck had been with the French. 
There w^ere incomparably more fine feats of arms than at 
Crecy, though not so many great lords were killed. And all 
who fell at Poitiers or were taken prisoner did their duty so 
loyally to their king that their heirs are still honoured for it 
and the gallant men who fought there are held in perpetual 
esteem. Nor should it be said that the King of France ever 
showed dismay at anything he saw or heard reported. He 
remained on the field from beginning to end, like the brave 
knight and stout fighter he was. He had shown his determina- 
tion never to retreat when he commanded his men to fight on 
foot and, having made them dismount, he did the same and 
stood in the forefront of them with a battle-axe in his hands, 
ordering forward his banners in the name of God and St 
Denis, with Sir Geoffroy de Charny bearing the principal one. 
So, in good order, the King's main division came face-to-face 
with the English. 



The fighting was fierce and bloody ; many hard blows wxre 
dealt with axes, swords and other weapons of war. King 
John and his youngest son Philip closed with the battalion of 
the English Marshals, the Earls of Warwick and Suffolk. 
There were also Gascons among them: the Captal de Buch, 
the Lord of Pommiers, Sir Aimery de Tastes, the Lord of 
Mussidan, the Lord of Longueren, the Souldich de Latrau. 

The BCing fully realized that his men were in danger. He 
saw their ranks wavering and breaking and the banners and 
pennons falling or moving back under the weight of the 
enemy's assault. Yet he still hoped to recover everything by 
force of arms. 

Froissarf names a number of French knights who remained fighting 
beside the King, and adds : 

Also in the King's division was Earl Douglas of Scotland, 
who fought bravely enough for a time. But when he saw that 
total defeat was imminent, he left and did his utmost to escape. 
He would never have allowed himself to fall into the hands of 
the English but would have preferred death in battle, know- 
ing for certain that they would never have agreed to ransom 

Finally the King^s division collapses altogether and the situation 
becomes chaotic. 

As their ranks broke and crumbled, there were taken 
prisoner cjuite near the King the Count of Tancarville and 
Lord Jacques de Bourbon, at that time Count of Ponthieu, 
and Lord Jean d'Artois, Count of Eu. A little farther off. 
Lord Charles d'Artois surrendered to the Captal with many 
other knights. The pursuit of the routed French went on as 
far as the walls of Poitiers, where there was a fearful slaughter 
of men and horses, for the inhabitants of Poitiers shut the 
gates and refused to let anyone in. Consequently a horrible 
scene of killing and maiming took place in the road and be- 
fore the main gate. The French surrendered at the mere sight 
of an Englishman and some of these, archers and others, had 
four, five or six prisoners each. Never before had there been 
so disastrous a rout. 

The Lord of Pons, a great baron from Poitou, was killed 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

there with many other knights and squires. The Viscount of 
Rochechouart, the Lord of Poyane and the Lord of Parthenay 
were captured, and the Lord of Montendre in Poitou. Sir 
Jean de Saintre was taken prisoner, so battered that he never 
recovered his health ; yet he was held to be the best and most 
valiant knight in France. Sir Guichard d'Angle, who had 
fought very courageously that day, was left for dead among 
the other dead.' 

Meanwhile Sir Geoffroy de Charny had been fighting gal- 
lantly near the King. The whole of the hunt was upon him, 
because he was carrying the King's master-banner. He also 
had his own banner in the field, gules, three inescutcheons 
argent. 2 The English and Gascons came in such numbers 
from all sides that they shattered the King's division. The 
French were so overwhelmed by their enemies that in places 
there were five men-at-arms attacking a single knight. Sir 
Geoffroy de Charny was killed, with the banner of France in 
his hands. Sir Baudouin d'Annequin was captured by Lord 
Bartholomew Burghersh, and the Count of Dammartin by 
Sir Reginald Cobham. Round the King of France himself 
there was a great jostUng and turmoil, with everyone strug- 
gling to take him prisoner. Those who were near enough to 
recognize him cried: 'Surrender, surrender, or you're a dead 
man!' There was a knight there from Saint-Omer called Sir 
Denis de Morbecque who had been with the English for five 
years because he had been banished from France in his youth 
after killing a man in a family feud. He had become a paid 
retainer of the King of England. Fortunately for this knight 
he found himself near to King John during the scuffle to cap- 
ture him. He forced his way through the press, for he was a 
big, strong man, and said in good French, by which he 
attracted the King's attention better than the others: 'Sire, 
give yourself up ! ' Seeing himself in this desperate plight and 
feeling that resistance was useless, the King looked at him 

1. He survived and later changed sides, to become one of the Black 
Prince's commanders, tutor to Richard II, and ultimately Earl of 

2. i.e. three small silver shields on a red ground. 



and said: 'To whom shall I surrender? To whom? Where is 
my cousin, the Prince of Wales ? If I could see him, then I 
would speak.* *Sire,' replied Sir Denis, 'he is not here. But 
surrender to me and I will take you to him.' 'Who are you?' 
the King asked. 'Sire, I am Denis de Morbecque, a knight 
from Artois. But I serve the King of England because I have 
been exiled from France and have forfeited all my posses- 
sions.' Then, as I was informed, the King answered, or prob- 
ably answered: 'I surrender to you', and gave him liis right- 
hand glove. The knight took it with delight. But there was 
still a great commotion round the King, with each man cla- 
mouring : ' I took him ! I took him ! ' and neither the King nor 
his young son Philip could move a step forward. 

We will now leave the King for a moment and return to the 
Prince of Wales and the battle. 

The Prince, who had been like a raging lion under his 
battle-helmet and had revelled in the fighting and the rout 
of the enemy, was hot and exhausted towards the end of the 
day. So Sir John Chandos, who had never left his side, said to 
him: 'Sire, it would be a good thing to halt here and raise 
your banner on this bush to rally your men who are getting 
very scattered. The day, thank God, is yours. I can see no 
French banners or pennons or any body capable of reforming. 
You should sit and cool off a little, for you look very over- 

The Prince acted on this suggestion and had his banner 
raised on a tall bush. He ordered the trumpets to be sounded 
and took off his battle-helmet. His personal attendants and the 
knights of his chamber hurried to him. They put up a small 
crimson tent into which he went and where drink was brought 
to him and the lords with him. Their numbers grew constantly 
as they returned from the pursuit. They all stopped there or 
thereabouts, busying themselves with their prisoners. 

As soon as the two Marshals, the Earls of Warwick and 
Suffolk, had come back, the Prince asked them if they had any 
news of the King of France. They said no, nothing definite. 
They thought he must have been either killed or captured, 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

since he had certainly not left the battle-field. The Prince then 
turned anxiously to the Earl of Warwick and Sir Reginald 
Cobham and said: 'Please go out again and ride about until 
you have found out the true position.' The two commanders 
mounted their horses and rode them up a hillock from which 
they had a view all round. They saw a great mob of men-at- 
arms on foot moving very slowly towards them. In the midst 
of it was the King of France in grave danger, for English and 
Gascons had got hold of him, having snatched him away from 
Sir Denis de Morbecque, who was no longer near. The 
strongest were shouting: 'I took him, he's mine!' The King, 
who understood their eagerness to get possession of him, 
attempted to end this dangerous situation by saying: 'Sirs, 
sirs, take me in a gentlemanly way, and my son with me, to my 
cousin the Prince, and stop this brawling over my capture. I 
am a king, and great enough to make each one of you rich.' 
These words satisfied them for a moment, but soon the 
brawling broke out again and they came to blows at every 
step they took. 

Seeing this crowd in the distance, the two commanders de- 
cided to go towards it. They spurred up to it and said : ' What's 
happening? What's going on here?' Someone answered: 
*It's the King of France, and a dozen knights and squires 
squabbling to get liim.' Wasting no more words, the two 
knights pushed their horses through the crowd and ordered 
every man there to stand back and stay back, if he valued his 
life. No one dared to disobey this order, so they drew well 
away from the King and the two barons, who sprang to the 
ground and bowed humbly before him. He was indeed glad 
to see them, for they had delivered him from great danger. 

Warwick and Cobham escort King John to the Prince's tent^ where 
he is received with every mark of courtesy. 

So that battle was fought as you have heard, in the fields of 
Maupertuis, six miles from the city of Poitiers, on the nine- 
teenth day of September, 1356. It began in the early morning 
and was finished by mid-afternoon, although many of the 
English did not return from the pursuit until late evening. 
That was why the Prince hoisted his banner on the bush - to 



recall and rally his men. There died that day, it was said, the 
finest flower of French chivalry, whereby the realm of France 
was sorely weakened and fell into great misery and affliction, 
as you will hear later. With the King and his youngest son 
Philip, seventeen counts were taken prisoner, besides the 
barons, knights and squires; while between five and seven 
hundred men-at-arms were killed, and six thousand men in 

By the time the English were all back round the Prince 
they found that their prisoners were twice as numerous as 
themselves, so they conferred together and decided to ran- 
som most of them on the spot. The captured knights and 
squires found the English and Gascons very accommodating 
and many of them bought their liberty there and then, or were 
freed simply on their promise to surrender themselves at Bor- 
deaux by Christmas or to deliver the payment there. 

The English took up their quarters for the night on the edge 
of the battle-field. Some disarmed, but not all, and they dis- 
armed their prisoners. They made them as comfortable as 
they could, each attending to his own, for the prisoners cap- 
tured in the battle were theirs personally, to be freed and 
ransomed as they chose. 

Thus all who took part in that glorious battle under the 
Prince became rich in honour and possessions, not only be- 
cause of the ransoms but also thanks to the gold and silver 
which they captured. They found plate and gold and silver 
belts and precious jewels in chests crammed full of them, as 
well as excellent cloaks, so that they took no notice of armour, 
arms or equipment. The French had come to the battle splen- 
didly provided, like men who felt certain in advance of 

That evening the Prince of Wales gave a supper for the King 
of France and most of the captured counts and barons. The 
Prince seated King John and his son Philip, with Lord 
Jacques de Bourbon, Lord Jean d'Artois, the Count of 

I . The exact numbers vary in different manuscripts, but all approximate 
to these figures. 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

Tancarville, the Count of Etampes, the Count of Dammartin, 
the Lord of Joinvillc and the Lord of Parthenay, at a high 
table, lavishly provided, and the rest of the nobles at other 
tables. He himself served in all humility both at the King's 
table and at the others, steadfastly refusing to sit down with 
the King in spite of all his entreaties. He insisted that he was 
not yet worthy to sit at the table of so mighty a prince and so 
brave a soldier as he had proved himself to be on that day. 
He constantly kneeled before him, saying: 'Beloved sire, do 
not make such a poor meal, even though God has not been 
willing to heed your prayers today. My royal father will cer- 
tainly show you every mark of honour and friendship in his 
power, and will come to such a reasonable understanding with 
you that you and he will always remain firm friends. In my 
opinion, you have good cause to be cheerful, although the 
battle did not go in your favour, for today you have won the 
highest renown of a warrior, excelling the best of your 
knights. I do not say this to flatter you, for everyone on our 
side, having seen how each man fought, unanimously agrees 
with this and aw^ards you the palm and the crown, if you will 
consent to wear them.' 

At these words all those present murmured their approval, 
French and English remarking to each other that the Prince 
had spoken nobly and to the point. Their esteem for him in- 
creased and it was generally agreed that in him they would 
have a most chivalrous lord and master if he was granted life 
to go on in the same auspicious way. 

Next morning, after the nobles had heard mass and had 
drunk and eaten a little and the servants had packed up every- 
thing and assembled the wagon-train, they moved on towards 
Poitiers. Into Poitiers on the previous night had come Sir 
Mathieu de Roye, wuth a good hundred lances, having missed 
the battle. But he had met the Duke of Normandy out in the 
country near Chauvigny w4ien the latter was retreating towards 
French territory, as previously described. The Duke had told 
him to go to Poitiers with his whole force and to be the 
governor and captain of the city until further orders. Sir 



Mathieu had set a strong guard on the gates and ramparts 
that night and in the morning had ordered all the men in the 
town to arm themselves in its defence. But the English passed 
by without attacking. They were so encumbered with booty 
and valuable prisoners that they had no time or inclination to 
attack fortresses on their way home. They considered that it 
would be a sufficient achievement to return safely to Bordeaux 
with the King of France and the spoils. Unable to go fast be- 
cause of the laden pack-animals and the long wagon-train, they 
advanced by short marches, never covering more than twelve 
to fifteen miles a day and halting in the early afternoon. They 
kept together in one close-ordered body, except for the de- 
tachment of the Marshals who rode ahead with five hundred 
armoured men to reconnoitre the country and open up the 
route. But they met with no obstacles the whole way and had 
no encounters. The country was so stunned by the disaster of 
Poitiers, the death or surrender of the French nobles and the 
capture of their King that no one lifted a finger to oppose 
them. All fighting men kept very quiet indeed and stayed in- 
side their fortresses. 


(Consequences of Poitiers 


I F the English and their allies were jubilant at the capture of 
King John, the kingdom of France was deeply disturbed by 
it. There was cause enough, for it brought loss and suffering 
to people of all conditions, and the wiser heads predicted that 
greater evils were to come. Their sovereign was a prisoner 
and all the best of their knights were also in prison or dead, 
and the three princes who had escaped, Charles, Louis and 
John, were very young in age and experience, so there was 
little chance of recovery through them. 

In addition, those knights and squires who had returned 
from the battle were so blamed and detested by the commons 
that they were reluctant to go into the big tow^ns. There was 
much intriguing and mutual recrimination, until some of the 
wiser ones reaHzed that things could not be allowed to go on 
in this way, but that something must be done about it. There 
was a force of English and Navarrese in the Cotentin, under 
Sir Godfrey of Harcourt, which was ranging over the whole 
region and laying it waste. 

So all the prelates of the Church, bishops and abbots, all the 
nobility, lords and knights, the Provost of the merchants of 
Paris ' and the burgesses, and the councillors of the French 
towns, met together in Paris to consider how the realm 
should be governed until their King should be set free. They 
also wanted to find out what had happened to the vast sums 
which had been raised in the past through tithes, levies on 
capital, forced loans, coinings of new money and all the other 
extortionate measures by which the population had been tor- 
mented and oppressed while the soldiers remained underpaid 
and the country inadequately protected. But of these matters 
no one was able to give an account. 

I. fitienne Marcel. 


It was therefore agreed that the prelates should elect twelve 
good men from among them, with powers, as representa- 
tives of the clergy, to devise suitable means of dealing with the 
situation described. The barons and knights also elected 
twelve of the wisest and shrewdest of their number to attend 
to the same matters, and the burgesses twelve in the same 
way. It was then decided by common consent that these 
thirty-six persons should meet frequently in Paris to discuss 
the affairs of the realm and put them in order. Questions of all 
kinds were to be referred to these Three Estates. Their acts 
and ordinances were to be binding on all the other prelates, 
nobles and common people of the cities and towns. Neverthe- 
less, even at the beginning, several of those elected were 
viewed unfavourably by the Duke of Normandy ^ and his 

As a first measure, the Three Estates stopped the coining 
of the money then being minted and took possession of the 
dies. Secondly, they required the Duke to arrest his father's 
Chancellor, with Sir Robert de Lorris, Sir Simon de Bucy, 
Jean Poillevilain [Master of the Alint] and the other financial 
officers and former counsellors of the King, in order that they 
should render a true account of all the funds which had been 
levied and collected on their advice. When these high officials 
heard of this, they completely disappeared and were wise to 
do so. They left the kingdom of France as quickly as they 
could and went to live in other countries until the situation 
should have changed. 

Next, they appointed on their own authority officials with 
the duty of raising and collecting all the levies, taxes, tithes, 
loans and other duties payable to the crown and they had new 
coinage of fine gold minted, called moutons. ^ They would also 
have Hked to have the King of Navarre^ released from the 

1 . King John's eldest son, later Charles V. He assumed the powers of 
Regent within a fortnight of the defeat of Poitiers. 

2. So called because one side represented the 'Lamb of God'. The coin 
had been current in earlier reigns. 

3 . Charles ' the Bad ', King of Navarre, had been seized and imprisoned 
by King John a few months before Poitiers. 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

castle of Arleux in the Cambresis, where he was held prisoner, 
for many of them felt that, provided he was willing to be loyal 
and cooperative, the kingdom would be strengthened by such 
a measure, since after the defeat of Poitiers there were very 
few great lords who could act as leaders. They therefore re- 
quested the Duke of Normandy to set him free, saying that he 
appeared to have been greatly wronged and they did not know 
why he was held in prison. The Duke very prudently replied 
that he dared not release him nor advocate doing so, since it 
was his father the King who had put him there for reasons 
which he did not know. The King of Navarre was conse- 
quently not released just then. 

At that time a knight called Sir Regnault de Cervoles, com- 
monly known as the Archpriest, took command of a large 
company of men-at-arms assembled from many countries. 
These found that their pay had ceased with the capture of 
King John and could see no way of making a living in France. 
They therefore went towards Provence, where they took a 
number of fortified towns and castles by assault and plundered 
the whole country as far as Avignon under the sole leadership 
of Sir Regnault. Pope Innocent VI and his cardinals who were 
at Avignon at that date were in such fear of them that they 
hardly knew where to turn and they kept their household 
servants armed day and night. After the Archpriest and his men 
had pillaged the whole region, the Pope and his College opened 
negotiations with him. He entered Avignon with most of his 
followers by friendly agreement, was received with as much 
respect as if he had been the King of France's son, and dined 
several times at the palace with the Pope and the cardinals. All 
his sins were remitted him and when he left he was given 
forty thousand crowns to distribute among his companions. 
The company left the district but still remained under the 
command of the Archpriest. 

At that time also there arose another company of men-at- 
arms and irregulars from various countries, who subdued and 
plundered the whole region between the Seine and the Loire. 
As a result, no one dared to travel between Paris and Ven- 



dome, or Paris and Orleans, or Paris and Montargis, and no 
one dared to remain there. All the inhabitants of the country- 
districts fled to Paris or Orleans. This company had a Welsh 
captain called Ruffin,^ who had himself made a knight and 
became so powerful and rich that his wealth was uncountable. 
These companions often carried their raids almost to Paris, or 
at other times towards Orleans or Chartres. No place was safe 
from being attacked and pillaged unless it was very strongly 
defended. . . . They ranged the country in troops of twenty, 
thirty or forty and they met no one capable of putting up a 
resistance to them. Elsewhere, along the coast of Normandy, 
there was a larger company of EngHsh and Navarrese pillagers 
and marauders commanded by Sir Robert Knollys, who con- 
quered towns and castles in the same way and also found no 
one to oppose them. Tliis Sir Robert Knollys had been fol- 
lowing this practice for a long time and had acquired at least 
a hundred thousand crowns. He had a large number of mer- 
cenaries at his command and paid them so well that they fol- 
lowed him eagerly. 

These activities of what were known as the Free Companies, 
who attacked all travellers carrying valuables, began under the 
administration of the Three Estates. The nobles and the pre- 
lates began to grow tired of the institution of the Estates and 
left the Provost of the Merchants and some of the burgesses 
of Paris to go their own way, finding that these were inter- 
fering more than they Uked with the conduct of affairs. 

It happened one day, when the Duke of Normandy was at the 
palace with a large company of nobles, knights and prelates, 
that the Provost of the Merchants also assembled a great 
crowd of the common people of Paris who supported him, 
all wearing similar caps by which they could recognize each 
other. He went to the palace surrounded by his men and en- 
tered the Duke's room, where he asked him very sharply to 
shoulder responsibility for the affairs of the realm and give 
some thought to them, so that the kingdom - which would 
eventually be his - should be properly protected from the 
I. Also known as 'Griffon', so perhaps 'Griffith' or 'Gruffydd'. 


BOOK ONE (1522-77) 

depredations of the Free Companies. The Dake replied that 
lie would be quite ready to do so if he had the means at his 
disposal, but that it should be done by whoever collected the 
revenue and taxes belonging to the realm. 

I do not know exactly how it happened, but such an angry 
argument arose that there, in the presence of the Duke of 
Normandy, three of the chief members of his council were 
killed, so close to him that his robe was splashed with blood 
and he himself was in great danger. But he was given one of 
the people's caps to put on his head and was forced to pardon 
the murder of his three knights, two of them soldiers and the 
third a legal officer. The first were Sir Robert de Clermont, a 
nobleman of high standing, and the Lord of Conflans. The 
lawyer was Master Regnault d'Acy, the Advocate General. 

On the initiative of the Provost^ the King of Navarre is released 
from prison and brought to Paris. [Although Froissart places this 
after the killings Just described^ it occurred in fact some three months 
before them.) 

When the King of Navarre had been in Paris for a short 
time, he called together a variety of people, prelates, knights, 
clerks of the University of Paris and any others who wished to 
attend, and delivered a speech to them. Speaking at first in 
Latin, with the Duke of Normandy present, he complained 
very temperately and reasonably of the wrongs and violence 
which had been done to him without good cause. He said that 
no one should feel any fear of him, since he was ready to live 
and die defending the kingdom of France - as indeed he was 
bound to, for he was descended in the direct line on both his 
father's and his mother's side. And he let it be understood 
clearly enough that, if he ever wished to lay claim to the 
French crown, he could show that he had a better right to it 
than the King of England. His speech and his arguments were 
listened to with approval, and in such ways he gradually ac- 
quired great popularity among the Parisians, until they came 
to prefer him to the Regent, the Duke of Normandy. The 
same thing happened in a number of other French cities and 



Not long after the King of Navarre had been set free, there 
were very strange and terrible happenings in several parts of 
the kingdom of France. They occurred in the region of Beau- 
vais, in Brie and on the Marne, in Valois, in Laonnais, in the 
fief of Coucy and round Soissons. They began when some of 
the men from the country towns came together in the Beau- 
vais region. They had no leaders and at first they numbered 
scarcely a hundred. One of them got up and said that the 
nobility of France, knights and squires, were disgracing and 
betraying the realm, and that it would be a good thing if they 
were all destroyed. At this they all shouted : ' He's right ! He's 
right! Shame on any man who saves the gentry from being 
wiped out ! ' 

They banded together and went off, without further de- 
liberation and unarmed except for pikes and knives, to the 
house of a knight who lived near by. They broke in and killed 
the knight, with his lady and his children, big and small, and set 
fire to the house. Next they went to another castle and did much 
worse ; for, having seized the knight and bound him securely 
to a post, several of them violated his wife and daughter before 
his eyes. Then they killed the wife, who was pregnant, and the 
daughter and all the other children, and finally put the knight 
to death with great cruelty and burned and razed the castle. 

They did similar things in a number of castles and big 
houses, and their ranks swelled until there were a good six 
thousand of them. Wherever they went their numbers grew, 
for all the men of the same sort joined them. The knights and 
squires fled before them with their families. They took their 
wives and daughters many miles away to put them in safety, 
leaving their houses open with their possessions inside. And 
those evil men, who had come together without leaders or 
arms, pillaged and burned everything and violated and killed 
all the ladies and girls without mercy, like mad dogs. Their 
barbarous acts were worse than anything that ever took place 
between Christians and Saracens. Never did men commit such 

BOOK ONE (1522-77) 

vile deeds. They were such that no living creature ought to 
see, or even imagine or think of, and the men who committed 
the most were admired and had the highest places among 
them. I could never bring myself to write down the horrible 
and shameful things which they did to the ladies. But, among 
other brutal excesses, they killed a knight, put him on a spit, 
and turned him at the fire and roasted him before the lady and 
her children. After about a dozen of them had violated the 
lady, they tried to force her and the children to eat the knight's 
flesh before putting them cruelly to death. 

They had chosen a king from among them who came, it was 
said, from Clermont in Beauvaisis ; and they elected the worst 
of the bad. This king was called Jack Goodman. Those evil 
men burned more than sixty big houses and castles in the 
Beauvais region round Corbie and Amiens and Montdidier. 
If God had not set things right by His grace, the mischief 
would have spread until every community had been destroyed 
and Holy Church afterwards and all wealthy people through- 
out the land, for men of the same kind committed similar acts 
in Brie and in Pertois. All the ladies of the region, with their 
daughters, and the knights and squires, were forced to flee 
one after another to Meaux in Brie as best they could, in no 
more than their tunics. This happened to the Duchess of 
Normandy and the Duchess of Orleans and to a number of 
other great ladies, like the humbler ones, as their only alterna- 
tive to being violated and then murdered. 

Other wicked men behaved in just the same way between 
Paris and Noyon, and between Paris and Soissons and Ham 
in Vermandois, and throughout the district of Coucy. That 
was where the worst violators and evil-doers were. In that 
region they pillaged and destroyed more than a hundred 
castles and houses belonging to knights and squires, killing 
and robbing wherever they went. But God by His grace pro- 
vided a remedy - for which He is devoutly to be thanked - in 
the manner of which you shall now hear. 

When the gentry of the Beauvaisis and of the other districts 
where those wicked men assembled and committed their bar- 




barous deeds saw their houses destroyed and their friends 
killed, they sent to their friends in Flanders, Hainault, Bra- 
bant and Hesbaye to ask for help. Soon they arrived in con- 
siderable numbers from all sides. The foreign noblemen 
joined forces with those of the country who guided and led 
them, and they began to kill those evil men and to cut them 
to pieces without mercy. Sometimes they hanged them on the 
trees under which they found them. Similarly the King of 
Navarre put an end to more than three thousand of them in 
one day, not far from Clermont in Beauvaisis. But by then 
they had increased so fast that, all taken together, they easily 
amounted to a hundred thousand men. When they were 
asked why they did these things, they replied that they did not 
know; it was because they saw others doing them and they 
copied them. They thought that by such means they could 
destroy all the nobles and gentry in the world, so that there 
would be no more of them. . . . 

At the time when these evil men were plaguing the country, 
the Count of Foix and his cousin the Captal de Buch came 
back from Prussia. On the road, when they were about to 
enter France, they heard of the dreadful calamities which had 
overtaken the nobility, and were filled with horror. They rode 
on so fast that they reached Chalons in Champagne in a single 
day. Here there were no troubles from the villeins, for they 
were kept out from there. They learnt in that city that the 
Duchess of Normandy and the Duchess of Orleans and at least 
three hundred other ladies and their daughters, as well as the 
Duke of Orleans, were waiting at Meaux in a state of great 
anxiety because of the jacquerie. The two gallant knights de- 
cided to visit the ladies and take them whatever support they 
could, although the Captal de Buch was English. But at that 
time there was a truce between the Kingdoms of France and 
of England, so that the Captal was free to go wherever he 
wished. Also he wanted to give proof of his knightly qualities, 
in company with the Count of Foix. Their force was made up 
of about forty lances and no more, for they were on their way 
back from a journey abroad, as I said. 

They rode on until they came to Meaux in Brie. There they 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

went to pay their respects to the Duchess of Normandy and 
the ladies, who were overjoyed to see them arrive, for they 
were in constant danger from the Jacks and villeins of Brie, 
and no less from the inhabitants of the town, as it soon be- 
came plain. When those evil people heard that there were a 
large number of ladies and children of noble birth in the town, 
they came together and advanced on Meaux, and were joined 
by others from the County of Valois. In addition, those of 
Paris, hearing of this assembly, set out one day in flocks and 
herds and added their numbers to the others. There were fully 
nine thousand of them altogether, all filled with the most 
evil intentions. They were constantly reinforced by men from 
other places who joined them along the various roads which 
converged on Meaux. When they reached that town, the 
wicked people inside did not prevent them from entering, but 
opened the gates and let them in. Such multitudes passed 
through that all the streets were filled with rhem as far as the 

Now let me tell you of the great mercy which God showed 
to the ladies, for they would certainly have been violated and 
massacred, great ladies though they were, but for the knights 
who were in the town, and especially the Count of Foix and 
the Captal de Buch. It was these two who made the plan by 
which the villeins were put to flight and destroyed. 

When these noble ladies, who were lodged in the market- 
place - which is quite strong, provided it is properly defended, 
for the River Marne runs round it - saw such vast crowds 
thronging towards them, they were distracted with fear. But 
the Count of Foix and the Captal de Buch and their men, who 
were ready armed, formed up in the market-place and then 
moved to the gates of the market and flung them open. There 
they faced the villeins, small and dark and very poorly armed, 
confronting them with the banners of the Count of Foix and 
the Duke of Orleans and the pennon of the Captal de Buch, 
and holding lances and swords in their hands, fully prepared 
to defend themselves and to protect the market-place. 

When those evil men saw them drawn up in this warlike 
order - although their numbers were comparatively small - 



they became less resolute than before. The foremost began 
to fall back and the noblemen to come after them, striking 
at them with their lances and swords and beating them down. 
Those who felt the blows, or feared to feel them, turned back 
in such panic that they fell over each other. Then men-at- 
arms of every kind burst out of the gates ^nd ran into the 
square to attack those evil men. They mowed them down in 
heaps and slaughtered them like cattle; and they drove all the 
rest out of the town, for none of the villeins attempted to 
take up any sort of fighting order. They went on killing 
until they were stiff and weary and they flung many into the 
River Marne. 

In all, they exterminated more than seven thousand Jacks on 
that day. Not one would have escaped if they had not grown 
tired of pursuing them. When the noblemen returned, they 
set fire to the mutinous town of Meaux and burnt it to ashes, 
together with all the villeins of the town whom they could 
pen up inside. 

After that rout at Meaux, there were no more assemblies of 
the Jacks, for the young Lord de Coucy, whose name was Sir 
Enguerrand, placed himself at the head of a large company of 
knights and squires who wiped them out wherever they found 
them, without pity or mercy. 


Meanwhile the burghers of Paris under Etienne Marcel have acquired 
control of the city and completed its fortifications. They are virtually 
besieged by the Kegent, who has withdraivn to the outskirts from 
which he harries the capital with a strong force of mercenaries. The 
King of Navarre also leaves the capital and installs himself at Saint- 
Denis with his own army of mercenaries. These are ostensibly main- 
tained for the protection of the Parisians, who are providing their 
pay. But, while pretending to support the burghers, the King enters 
into a secret pact with the Kegent. 

The Provost of the Merchants and his faction, knowing that 
they had incurred the resentment and hatred of their sovereign 
lord the Duke of Normandy, began to feel uneasy. They often 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

visited the King of Navarre at Saint-Denis, pointing out to 
him gently but plainly that he was the cause of the danger 
in which they found themselves ; for they had freed him from 
prison and brought him to Paris and would gladly have made 
him their lord and king had they been able to, and had indeed 
connived at the killing of the three councillors in the palace 
because they were opposed to him. They entreated him not 
to fail them or to place too much trust in the Duke of Nor- 
mandy and his council. The King of Navarre, realizing that 
the Provost and his supporters were growing anxious and 
remembering their friendly behaviour towards him in the past, 
reassured them as w^ell as he could by saying: 'My dear sirs 
and friends, you will never suffer any harm from tne. Now, 
while you are in control of Paris with no one daring to thwart 
you, I would advise you to make provision for the future by 
building up a fund of gold and silver in some place where you 
can lay hands on it in case of need. If you send it here to Saint- 
Denis and entrust it to me, I will keep it for you and use it 
secretly to maintain a force of men-at-arms with whom you 
can fight your enemies if necessary.' The Provost of the 
Merchants agreed to this. Twice a week from then on he 
sent two pack-horses laden with florins to Saint-Denis to the 
King of Navarre, who received them with jubilation. 

Now it happened that inside Paris itself there had remained 
a large number of English and Navarrese mercenaries who 
had been retained by the Provost and the commons to help 
defend them against the Duke of Normandy. As long as the 
fighting lasted these men had behaved loyally and well. 
When peace was made between them and the Duke, some of 
them left, but not all. Those who left went to the King of 
Navarre, who took them on his strength, but more than three 
hundred stayed on in Paris, enjoying themselves and spending 
their money freely, as soldiers do in such towns. A disturb- 
ance arose between them and the Parisians, in which more 
than sixty of the soldiers were killed, either in the streets or in 
their lodgings. The Provost of the Merchants was highly 
incensed by this and blamed the Parisians bitterly. But never- 
theless, to appease the people, he took some hundred and fifty 



of the soldiers and imprisoned them in the Louvre, telUng 
the citizens, who were clamouring to kill them, that he would 
punish them according to their crimes. This quietened the 
Parisians and after nightfall the Provost, who wished to 
propitiate those English mercenaries, released them from 
prison and sent them on their way. They all joined the King 
of Navarre at Saint-Denis. . . . 

When they were all assembled at Saint-Denis, they decided 
to avenge their comrades and the treatment inflicted on them- 
selves. They sent a declaration of war to the Parisians and 
began to rove about outside the city killing and hacking to 
pieces any of the inhabitants who were bold enough to venture 
out. These were in such fear of the English that soon no one 
dared to go outside the gates. For this the Provost was held 
responsible and, afterwards, openly accused. 

When the people of Paris found themselves harried like this 
by the English soldiers, they were frantic with rage and de- 
manded that the Provost should arm some of their com- 
munity and send them out to fight. He agreed and said he 
would go with them, so one day they set out, over two thou- 
sand strong. Hearing that the English were somewhere near 
Saint-Cloud, they decided to divide into two bodies and take 
two separate roads, so as to make sure that the enemy should 
not escape them. They were to meet again at a certain spot 
not far from Saint-Cloud. So the two forces parted com- 
pany, the Provost taking the smaller one, and spent most of 
the day circling around Montmartre ^ and finding no trace of 
what they were looking for. 

About mid-afternoon the Provost, having accomplished 
nothing and growing tired of wandering about the country, 
returned to Paris by the Porte Saint-Denis. The other body 
knew nothing of this and stayed out longer; if they had 
known, they would have gone back also. In the evening they 

I. The apparent illogicality of looking for the enemy in the wrong 
direction - Montmartre was north of Paris, Saint-Cloud west - seems ex- 
plained by the fact, not recorded by Froissart, that the King of Navarre 
helped to lead the expedition and had no desire to clash with the English 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

did make for home, marching without order, like men who 
had no expectation of meeting the enemy. They moved along 
in groups, looking thoroughly sick and tired of the whole 
business. Some carried their helmets in their hands or let 
them hang from their necks, some, through weariness and 
apathy, trailed their swords along the ground or wore them 
slung from their shoulders. Slouching along in this way, they 
took the road leading into Paris through the Porte Saint- 
Honore. Suddenly at a turning of the road they were attacked 
by the English soldiers, who were at least four hundred strong 
and all of one sort and one mind. They dashed in shouting 
among the French, striking out at them lustily. Over two 
hundred were accounted for at the first onslaught. 

Taken completely by surprise, the French were too shaken 
to attempt an organized resistance. They took to flight and 
let themselves be cut to pieces like cattle. Those who could 
fled back into Paris, but over seven hundred were killed in the 
pursuit which continued as far as the barriers of the city. 
The Provost was fiercely blamed for this occurrence, many 
saying that he had betrayed them. 

The next morning, the relatives and friends of those who 
had been killed went out with carts and wagons to fetch their 
bodies and give them burial. But on the way they were am- 
bushed by the English and over a hundred more of them were 
killed or wounded. The people of Paris fell into such distress 
and confusion that they no longer knew whom to trust. 
They began to murmur and be suspicious of everyone. The 
King of Navarre was growing cool towards them, both be- 
cause of the pact with his brother-in-law the Duke of Nor- 
mandy and because of the way they had attacked the English 
mercenaries who had remained in Paris. He was quite willing for 
them to be punished and so pay more dearly for that evil 
deed. The Duke of Normandy for his part would not inter- 
vene as long as the Parisians were still ruled by the Provost 
of the Merchants. He sent them a public notification in writing 
that he would not make peace with them unless twelve of the 
citizens, to be chosen by himself, were surrendered to him at 
discretion. It is easy to understand why the Provost and others 



who knew that they were inculpated were filled with alarm. 
They saw clearly enough, on considering the situation, that 
things could not continue as they were for long, for the people 
of Paris were beginning to cool in their enthusiasm for them 
and their party. They spoke of them contemptuously, and this 
was known to them. 

Finally they concluded that if the choice lay between re- 
maining alive and prosperous and being destroyed, it would 
be better for them to kill than to be killed. On that conclusion 
they based their whole plan of action and entered into secret 
negotiations with the English soldiers who were harrying 
Paris. A pact was made between the two parties, according to 
which the Provost and his supporters were to seize possession 
of the Porte Saint-Honore and the Porte Saint- Antoine and 
to open those two gates at midnight to a combined force of 
English and Navarrese, who would come ready armed to 
ravage and destroy Paris. These plunderers were to spare 
neither man nor woman, of high or low degree, but to put 
everyone to the sword, except for some who would be 
recognized by marks on their doors and windows.' 

On the very night when this was to happen, an inspiration 
from God awoke some of the citizens who had an under- 
standing with the Duke of Normandy and whose leaders 
were Sir Pepin des Essarts and Sir Jean de Charny. These by 
divine inspiration - for so it must be supposed - learnt that 
Paris was to be plundered and destroyed. They immediately 
armed themselves and all their friends and caused the news to 
be whispered about secretly, so as to gain more supporters. 

Pepin des Essarts and others, well armed and numerous, 
raised the banner of France to the cry of: ' Up with the King 
and the Duke ! ' and were followed by the people. They went 

I. In Froissart's account the villain of the piece is fitienne Marcel, and 
too little is made of the dubious part played by the King of Navarre in 
these events. In spite of his secret understanding with the Regent, he 
seems to have been anxious to gain possession of Paris for himself and 
was at least rumoured to have intended pressing on with his claim to the 
French throne, to the exclusion both of the Regent and of the captive 
King John. 

BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

to the Porte Saint-Antoine, where they found the Provost of 
the Merchants with the keys of the gate in his hands. There 
they met Jean Maillart, who had had a quarrel earhcr that day 
with the Provost and with Josseran de Macon ' and had come 
over to the Duke of Normandy's party. Bitter accusations 
were hurled at the Provost and he was attacked and forced 
back. The people were in a tumult, clamouring and hooting. 
They shouted: 'Death to the Provost and his friends! They 
have betrayed us! Kill them!' 

In the midst of the commotion the Provost, who was stand- 
ing on the steps of the Saint-Antoine blockhouse, would 
gladly have escaped had he been able to, but was so close- 
pressed that he could not. Sir Jean de Charny hit him on the 
head with an axe and stretched him on the ground. There 
he was struck by Master Pierre de Fouace and others, who did 
not leave off until he was dead, together with six others of his 
faction, including Philippe Guiffart, Jean de Lille, Jean 
Poiret, Simon Le Paonnier and Gilles Marcel. Several other 
traitors were caught and put in prison. A search was made 
through the streets and the city was put in a state of defence 
and strong guards posted over it for the remainder of the 

As soon as the Provost and his supporters had been killed 
or caught, which took place on the evening of Tuesday, 
31 July 1358, messengers were sent in haste with the news 
to the Duke of Normandy, who was at Meaux. He was 
naturally delighted and prepared to come to Paris. But 
before his arrival, the King of Navarre's Treasurer, Josseran 
de Macon, and Charles Toussac, an alderman of Paris, 
were executed as traitors on the Place de Greve. The bodies 
of the Provost and the others killed with him were dragged 
to the courtyard of St Catherine's Church in the Val des 
Ecoliers. Gashed and naked as they were, they were laid in 
front of the cross in the courtyard and left there for a long 

I. The King of Navarre's Treasurer. According to another source, the 
Grandes Chrotiiques de Fraticc, £tiennc Marcel had ordered the keys of one 
of the gates to be handed over to him, but Jean Maillart, the captain of the 
guard, had refused. 



time, so that any who wished to see them could do so. 
Afterwards they were thrown into the Seine. 


Acclaimed bj his supporters, the Duke of Normandy re-enters Paris 
and takes up residence in the Loutre. For a time Charles of Navarre 
continues his campaign of brigandage round Paris, but finally makes 
peace with the Regent. His brother Philip, however, continues to 
pillage the country, in connivance with the English. Elsewhere also 
English, or so-called English, bands maintain a reign of terror, 
virtually paralysing trade and agriculture. 

The kingdom of France was plundered and pillaged in every 
direction, so that it became impossible to ride anywhere 
without being attacked. Sir Eustace d'Aubrecicourt main- 
tained himself in Champagne, of which he was the virtual 
master. Whenever he liked he could assemble at a day's 
notice seven hundred to a thousand fighting men. He or his 
men made raids almost daily, sometimes towards Troyes, 
sometimes towards Provins, or as far as Chateau-Thierry or 
Chalons. The whole of the low country was at their mercy, on 
both sides of the Seine and the Marne. This Sir Eustace per- 
formed many fine feats of arms and no one could stand up to 
him, for he was young and deeply in love and full of enter- 
prise. He won great wealth for himself through ransoms, 
through the sale of towns and castles, and also through the 
redemption of estates and houses and the safe-conducts which 
he provided. No one was able to travel, either merchants or 
others, or venture out from the cities and towns without his 
authority. He had a thousand soldiers in his pay and held ten 
or twelve fortresses. 

Sir Eustace at that time was very sincerely in love with a 
y^oung lady of high breeding, and she with him. There is no 
barm in giving her name, since she later became his lawful 
wife. She was Madame Isabel de Juliers, daughter of the 
Count of Juliers by one of the daughters of the Count of Hai- 
Qault. The Queen of England was her aunt, and as a girl she 
had been married in England to the Earl of Kent, but he died 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

young. This lady was still young and she nad fallen in love 
with Sir Eustace for his great exploits as a knight, of which 
accounts were brought to her every day. While he was in 
Champagne, she sent him several hackneys and chargers, with 
love-letters and other tokens of great affection, by which the 
knight was inspired to still greater feats of bravery and 
accomplished such deeds that everyone talked of him. 

Sir Eus/ace d^Aubrecicouri is defeated and captured in a skirmish, 
to be ransomed later. As a result, the English evacuate a number of 
castles, hut still hold others. 

Sir Peter Audley remained none the less at Beaufort and 
Jean de Segur at Nogent and Albrecht at Gye-sur-Seine. At 
that time there departed this life in rather strange circum- 
stances, in the castle of La Herelle which he held, ten miles 
from Amiens, Sir Jean de Picquigny, strangled, it was said, 
by his chamberlain. One of his most trusted knights, called 
Sir Lus de Bethisi, also died in the same way. May God have 
mercy on their souls and forgive them their misdeeds. 

A very strange thing happened at about the same time to an 
English squire belonging to the troop of Sir Peter Audley and 
Albrecht. They had gone raiding one day to a village called 
Ronay and began plundering it just as the priest was chant- 
ing high mass. This squire entered the church and went up to 
the altar and, seizing the chalice in which the priest was about 
to consecrate the blood of Our Lord, he spilt the wine on the 
ground. When the priest protested, he gave him a back-hand 
blow with his gauntlet, so hard that the blood spurted on to 
the altar. After this, they all left the village and, while they 
were riding across the country, with the robber who had 
committed the outrage carrying the chalice, the plate and the 
communion cloth against his breast, this thing suddenly hap- 
pened which I will relate; it was a true example of God's 
anger and vengeance and a warning to all other pillagers. 
His horse and he on it began whirling madly about in the 
fields and raising such an outcry that none dared to go near 
them; until at last they fell in a heap with their necks broken 
and were immediately turned to dust and ashes. All this was 
witnessed by the comrades who were present and who were so 



terrified that they swore before God and Our Lady that they 
would never again violate a church, or rob one. I do not 
know whether they kept their promise. 

In the autumn of ijjp Edward III led an expedition from Calais 
through north-eastern France with the object of bringing the Regent 
to heel and enforcing a peace treaty which would consolidate the gains of 
Poitiers. He besieged Kheims unsuccessfully before finally reaching 

While Rheims was being besieged, the English nobles were 
dispersed about the neighbouring country, where they could 
live more easily and could guard the roads to stop supplies 
from entering the city. That fine soldier and great English 
baron, Lord Bartholomew Burghersh, had his quarters with 
his whole contingent of men-at-arms and archers in the town 
of Cormicy, where there was an excellent castle belonging to 
the Archbishop of Rheims. The Archbishop had entrusted its 
defence to a knight from Champagne called Sir Henry de 
Vaulx, who had a number of good soldiers with him. The 
castle seemed safe from all assaults, having a great square 
tower with thick walls and strong battlements. 

When Lord Burghersh, having invested the castle and con- 
sidered its strong construction, had seen that he could not 
take it by assault, he summoned a band of miners whom he 
had in his service and ordered them to do their work of 
mining the fortress, adding that they would be well paid for 
it. ' Right,* they said. They started their mine and by digging 
continually night and day they made such progress that they 
came right under the great tower. All the time they were 
mining they were putting in props, but the men in the castle 
did not know they were working. When the tower was 
directly over the mine, so that it could be brought down at 
any moment, the miners went to Lord Burghersh and said: 
*Sir, we've pushed on so far with the job that the big tower 
can be dropped whenever you give the word.' 'That's good,' 
said the knight, *but do nothing more until you have my 
orders.' 'Right,' they said. 

Lord Burghersh mounted his horse and, taking one of liis 
companions, Jean de Ghistelles, with him, he rode up to the 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

castle and signalled that he wished to speak with the men in- 
side. Sir Henry came on to the battlements and asked him what 
he wanted. 'What I want,' said Lord Burghersh, 'is for you to 
surrender. If not, you will all be dead men before long.' 
*What?' said the French knight, beginning to laugh. 'We are 
all safe and sound in here and well supplied with everything 
we need, and you ask us to surrender like that! No sir, never.' 
'Come, Sir Henry,' said the EngHsh knight, 'if you knew what 
a mess you were in, you would surrender at once without 
arguing.' 'And what mess are we in, sir?' asked the French 
commander. 'Just come outside and I'll show you,' said Lord 
Burghersh, ' on condition that if you want to go back into 
your tower I'll let you. You have my promise of that.' 

Sir Henry took the English knight at his word and accepted 
the offer. He came out of his fortress with only three com- 
panions and joined Lord Burghersh and Sir Jean de Ghis- 
telles outside. They took him at once to their mine and let him 
see that the great tower was only supported by wooden props. 
When the French knight realized the danger they were in, he 
said to Lord Burghersh: 'Certainly, sir, you were quite right 
and it was a really gentlemanly act to do what you did. We put 
ourselves at your disposal with everything we have with us.' 

Lord Burghersh accepted them as his prisoners and brought 
all their men out of the tower together with their possessions. 
Then he had fire set to the mine. When the props burnt 
through, the huge square tower split down the middle and 
collapsed. 'Look at that,' said Lord Burghersh to Sir Henry de 
Vaulx and the rest of the garrison. 'Didn't I tell you?' 'Yes, 
sir,' they replied. 'We will remain prisoners at your discretion 
and we are grateful for your courteous dealing. If the Jack 
Goodmans who were once uppermost in this district had got 
the better of us as you did just now, they would never have 
treated us in this generous way.' 

That was how the garrison of Cormicy was captured and 
the castle demolished. 

You may like to know that on this campaign the great Eng- 
lish lords and men of substance took with them tents of 



various sizes, mills for grinding corn, ovens for baking, 
forges for shoeing the horses and all other necessities. To 
carry all this, they had fully eight thousand wagons, each 
drawn by four good, strong rounseys which they had brought 
over from England. They also carried on the wagons a num- 
ber of skiffs and other small boats so skilfully made from 
leather that they were a sight worth seeing. Each could take 
three men over the biggest lake or pond to fish whatever part 
of it they liked. This was a great standby for them at all 
seasons, including Lent, at least for the lords and the royal 
household, but the common soldiers had to manage with what 
they found. In addition, the King had for his personal use 
thirty mounted falconers and their loads of birds and sixty 
couples of big hounds and as many coursing-dogs, with 
which he went either hunting or wild-fowling every day. 
Many of the nobles and wealthy men also had their hounds 
and hawks like the King. Their army was always divided 
into three bodies, each moving independently with its own 
vanguard and rearguard and halting for the night three miles 
behind the preceding one. The Prince commanded one 
division, the Duke of Lancaster another, and the King the 
third and largest. They kept this formation the whole way 
from Calais until they reached the city of Chartres. 

In those days there was a Franciscan friar at Avignon, a 
very learned and intelligent man, called Brother Jean de la 
Rochetaillade. He was kept imprisoned by Pope Innocent VI 
in the castle of Bagnols because of the extraordinary misfor- 
tunes wliich he predicted, firstly for the prelates and princes 
of the Church, on account of the excessive luxury and pomp 
in which they lived; and also for the Kingdom of France and 
the great lords of Christendom, because of the way in which 
they oppressed the common people. This Friar John claimed 
to prove his utterances by the Apocalypse and the ancient 
books of the holy prophets, whose sense was made clear to 
him, he said, by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Many of his pre- 
dictions w^ere hard to believe, yet some came true within the 
period in which he placed them. He did not speak as a 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

prophet, but knew about them through the old Scriptures 
and by the grace of the Holy Spirit - as one says - who had 
granted him understanding to make clear all those ancient 
prophecies and writings, so as to announce to all Christians 
the year and the date when the troubles were to come. He 
composed several books, well written and based on sound 
theological knowledge, one of which appeared in the year 
1356. In it he described so many strange events for the years 
1356 to 1360 that they seemed incredible, although several of 
them in fact occurred. And when he was asked about the war 
between the French and English he replied that what had been 
seen so far was nothing beside what was to come, and that 
there would be no peace nor end before the realm of France 
had been wasted and destroyed in every district and region. 
That came true, for France was indeed ravaged, wasted and 
destroyed, and in particular during the time which the friar 
predicted, in '56, '57, '58, and '59, in all its regions, so savagely 
that none of the princes or nobles dared to show his face before 
those people of low degree, drawn from many different 
countries, coming one after another, with no highly placed 
leaders at all. And the realm was defenceless before them, as 
you have already heard. 


King John's "^B^urn to England and his 
"Death {1^6^-4) 

Peace terms were at last agreed in ij6o at Bretignj. The Hnglish 
were confirmed in possession of A.quitaine^ Calais and Vonthieu {the 
district round the mouth of the Somme). King John II, a prisoner in 
hondon since Poitiers, was released on the promise of a huge ransom, 
hut important hostages were retained to guarantee payment. One of 
these, his son L,ouis, Duke of A.njou, broke his parole not long after- 
wards. It was partly, at least, with the very honourable intention of 
repairing this act of bad faith, that King John returned voluntarily to 
'England in i)6^. 

I was informed at the time - and it was perfectly correct - 
that BCing John became set on going to England to visit his 
brother King Edward and his sister the Queen, and with this 
intention called together part of his council. No one could dis- 
suade him from his purpose, though he was strongly advised 
against it, several of the French prelates and barons telling 
him that it would be a most hazardous step to place himself in 
the King of England's power. His answer was that he had 
found the King his brother, the Queen and their sons so full 
of good faith, honour and courtesy, that he feared nothing 
from them and was sure they would behave in the same way to 
him in all circumstances, and also that he wished to apologize 
for his son the Duke of Anjou, who had gone back to France. 
No one dared to go against this argument, since the question 
was already settled in his mind. Immediately after he ap- 
pointed his son the Duke of Normandy to be regent and 
governor of France until his return. . . . 

[After visiting Amiens and Hesdin] he travelled on to 
Boulogne and lodged in the abbey of that town, waiting for a 
favourable wind. With him were Lord Jean d' Artois, Count of 
Eu, the Count of Dammartin, the Grand Prior of France, 
Lord Boucicaut, Marshal of France, Sir Pierre de Villiers, 
Sir Jean Danville, Sir Nicolas Braque and several others, who 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

were all to accompany him across the sea. When their ships 
were loaded and the sailors saw that the wind was right, the 
King was informed. He went aboard his vessel at about mid- 
night, while his men embarked in the others. They remained 
anchored off Boulogne until daylight, waiting for the tide to 
turn. When they raised anchor, they had all the wind they 
needed and steered for England, reaching Dover towards 
evening; the date was 4 January, two days before Twelfth 

News of their arrival was brought to the King and Queen of 
England who were at Eltham, a very fine royal manor about 
seven miles from London. Some of the household knights. 
Lord Bartholomew Burghersh, Sir Alan BuxhuU and Sir 
Richard Pembridge, were immediately sent down to Dover, 
where the King of France had remained since liis arrival. 
They greeted him with all possible respect, telling him that 
King Edward was delighted that he had come. The next 
morning King John mounted his horse and rode with all his 
followers to Canterbury, which they reached at dinner-time. 
Entering the Cathedral of St Thomas, the King paid humble 
devotion to the body of the Saint and offered it a rich jewel of 
great value. After spending two days at Canterbury, he rode on 
towards London and, travelling in short stages, came to 
Eltham where the King and Queen of England were waiting 
to receive him with a great company of knights and ladies. 
He arrived on a Sunday in the afternoon, and between then 
and supper there was time for much dancing and merriment. 
The young Lord de Coucy ^ in particular took great pains to 
dance and sing well when liis turn came. He was much 
applauded by both French and English, for whenever he did a 
thing he did it well. 

It would be impossible for me to record all the honours 
with which the King and Queen of England received King 
John, but finally he left Eltham and entered London. There he 
was welcomed by people of all conditions, who came out in 
companies to meet him, greeting him with the greatest respect. 

I. Engucrrand dc Coucy, who later married Edward Ill's daughter 
Isabella. He was in England as a hostage. 


KING John's return to England 

Amid a great playing of musical instruments he was escorted 
to the Palace of the Savoy, which had been got ready for him, 
and where he was lodged with the members of his family and 
the French hostages. Chief among them were his brother the 
Duke of Orleans, his son the Duke of Berry, his cousin the 
Duke of Bourbon, the Count of Alencon, Guy de Blois, the 
Count of Saint-Pol, and many others. 

King John spent the rest of the winter there cheerfully 
and sociably. He was visited frequently by the King of 
England and his sons, the Dukes of Clarence and Lancaster 
and Lord Edmund. They held several big entertainments and 
parties together, dinners, suppers and so forth, either at the 
Savoy or at the Palace of Westminster situated near by, to 
which the King of France went privately whenever he liked 
by boat along the Thames. 

Froissart records briefty that King John fell ill and died at the 
'Palace of the Savoy {April 1^64), His eldest son, the Duke of 
Normandy, succeeded him as Charles ]/ of France. 


The "Battle of Montiel and T>eath of 
^eter the Qruel {1^69) 

During the peace between Hngland and France ?»anj wen from the 
Free Companies were drawn off to fight in Spain^ serving under regular 
commanders, such as Du Guesclin and the Black Prince. The crown 
of Castile was disputed between Peter the Cruel and his bastard 
brother, Henrj of Trastamara. With French support, Henrj sup- 
planted Peter for a short time in i^66-j, but Peter recovered the 
throne with the Black Prince's help. Fie behaved with such ruthlessness 
and treachery that the Black Prince withdrew his aid, and Henry 
then struck back at him, again supported by the French, and defeated 
him at Montiel. 

This battle of Spaniards against Spaniards and between the 
two kings and their allies, fought not far from the castle of 
Montiel, was a grim and murderous affair. There were many 
good knights on King Henry's side, Bertrand du Guesclin, 
Geoffroy Ricon, Arnaut Limosin, Yvain de Lakonnet, Jean 
de Berguettes, Gauvain de Bailleul, Le Begue de Villaines, 
Alain de Saint-Pol, Eliot de Tallay and the Bretons who were 
there; from the kingdom of Aragon the Viscount of Rocaberti 
and the Viscount of Roda and several others whom I cannot all 
name. They performed many fine feats of arms and indeed 
they had to, for among the forces against them were some very 
strange people, such as Saracens and Portuguese. The Jews 
who were there soon turned their backs and took no part in 
the fighting, but the men from Granada and Morocco fought 
well. They were armed with bows and assegais which they 
knew how to use and their shooting and throwing were skilful 
in the extreme. In the thick of the battle was the king Don 
Pedro, a stout fighter indeed, wielding an axe with which he 
dealt such lusty blows that none dared to come near him. The 
banner of his brother King Henry was brought up opposite 
his, closely surrounded and supported by good fighters, 
shouting their war-cries and thrusting fiercely with their 



lances. King Peter's men began to waver and lose heart. Don 
Fernando de Castro, whose duty was to advise and watch 
over the King, soon saw, with his quick eye, that their ranks 
were about to break in defeat ; they had never recovered from 
the shock of being taken by surprise. He therefore said to King 
Peter : ' Sire, leave the field and make for the Castle of Montiel 
which we left this morning. If you retreat there, you will be 
safe. But if the enemy capture you, you will be killed without 

King Peter took this advice and withdrew as quickly as 
possible to Montiel. He reached it so opportunely that he 
found the gates open, and the commander let him in accom- 
panied by a dozen men only. 

Meanwhile, the others went on fighting scattered over the 
country, and some did all that could be expected of them. 
The Saracens who were there and did not know the country 
[and the possible hiding-places] preferred to brave death rather 
than be hunted down in a long pursuit, so some of them sold 
their Uves very dearly. News was brought to King Henry and 
Sir Bertrand du Guesclin that King Peter had retreated to 
Montiel and shut himself inside there, pursued by Le Begue de 
Villaines and his troop. The castle could only be entered and 
left by one narrow road, across which Le Begue de Villaines 
was now installed, and on which he had planted his pennon. 

The castle of Montiel was strong enough to have held out 
for a long time if it had been supplied with provisions. But 
when King Peter entered it, there were supplies for only four 
days,^ to the great alarm of the King and his men, for they 
were watched so closely by night and day that not even a 
bird could have left the castle without being seen. King 
Peter, who was inside there in a state of anguish at seeing him- 
self encircled by his foes, who he knew would not grant him 
peace on any terms, became greatly apprehensive. So, having 
considered the danger in which he lay and his lack of 

I. Ffoissart has previously related that Peter lodged in the castle the 
night before the battle and ' was given what entertainment he could ' by 
the governor. No doubt this had already reduced the stocks of provisions. 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

provisions, he agreed to leave the castle by night with guides 
to lead him safely round the besieging army, trusting in God*s 
help to bring him through. He accordingly stole out secretly 
towards midnight with twelve followers, including Don 
Fernando de Castro. The sky was overcast and it was very 

At that hour Lc Begue de Villaines was keeping watch with 
over three hundred men. When King Peter and his party 
came out of the castle and were descending the steep path 
which led down from it, moving so quietly that one would 
hardly know they were there, Le Begue de Villaines, who was 
continually on the alert for fear that he should bungle the 
business and lose everything, thought he heard the sound of 
hooves on the paving-stones and said to the men with him: 
'Keep very quiet. Don't raise the alarm, but I hear people 
moving. We must find out who is abroad at this hour. It may 
be people taking supplies to the castle, for their stocks must be 
nearly exhausted.' 

He moved forward with his dagger in his hand and his 
comrades beside him and, coming upon a man near the King, 
said : ' Who goes there ? Speak, or you're a dead man ! ' This 
man was English, so he said nothing but broke away and 
dashed on. Le Begue let him go and stopped another, who was 
King Peter. Although it was very dark, he thought he recog- 
nized liim because of the likeness to his bastard brother Henry, 
whom he strongly resembled. Holding the dagger to his 
breast, he said: 'And you? Who are you? Give your name 
and surrender, or you're a dead man!' While speaking he 
had seized the horse's bridle, so that this man should 
not escape Uke the first, although that one was captured by 

Seeing a large force of armed men in front of him and 
knowing that he could not escape. King Peter said to Le 
Begue, whom he recognized: 'Begue, I am King Peter of 
Castile, a man much slandered by evil tongues. I surrender 
to you and place myself, with all my men here - there are 
only twelve of us - in your keeping at your discretion. I 
ask you, in the name of chivalry, to take us all to safety. I will 



pay you whatever ransom you care to ask since, thank God, I 
still have plenty to draw on. But keep me out of the hands of 
my bastard brother Henry.* 

Le Begue's answer, so I was informed and assured later, was 
that the King and his party could confidently come with him, 
and that his brother would never hear anything of the matter 
through him. On that understanding they went off. The King 
was taken to Le Begue de Villaines' quarters, and more 
exactly to the room of Sir Yvain de Lakonnet.^ 

He had not been there an hour when King Henry and the 
Viscount of Rocaberti, with a small company of their men, 
arrived at the same quarters and entered the room where 
King Peter was. As he came in he said: 'Where's that Jewish 
son of a whore who calls himself King of Castile ? ' Then King 
Peter stepped forward, that bold and bloody man, and said: 
' You're the son of a whore. I'm the son of good King Al- 
fonso.' With these words he seized his brother in his arms and, 
pulUng him towards him in a wrestler's grip, he mastered him 
and forced him down under him on to an ambarda,^ in other 
words, a bed with a silk mattress. He got his hand to his 
dagger and would certainly have killed him if the Viscount 
of Rocaberti had not caught hold of his foot and twisted him 
over so that King Peter was underneath and King Henry was 
on top. The latter drew a long Castilian knife which he carried 
slung from his shoulder and drove it upwards into his 
brother's body. His men came running in and helped to finish 
him off. They also killed at his side an English knight called 
Sir Ralph Helme, who was formerly known as the Green 
Squire, and a squire called Jacques Rollans because they 
attempted to resist. But no harm was done to Don Fernando 
de Castro and the others. They remained the prisoners of Le 
Begue de Villaines and Sir Yvain de Lakonnet. 

1. Froissart's careful account is in contradiction with that of Spanish 
historians, who attribute King Peter's betrayal to Du Guesclin, saying that 
he was taken to the quarters of the French commander-in-chief. 

2. Froissart: ambarde. There is no Spanish word with the required sense 
resembling this. Either there is a scribal error or possibly Froissart, who 
very rarely quotes foreign words, overreached himself here in an attempt 
to supply local colour. 

BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

So ended King Peter of Castile, who once had reigned in 
great prosperity. Those who had killed him left him lying on 
the ground for three days, which in my opinion was an in- 
human thing to do. And the Spaniards came and mocked at 


T'he Sack of himoges {ipo) 

In 1^69 the peace between England and France was broken. Du 
Guesclin^ who had remained in Spain for a time with King Henry, was 
sent for by Charles V of France to take part in a campaign against 
the Black Prince in Aquitaine. The French commanders ravage the 
country and capture fortresses, ivhile other fortresses go over to them 
without resistance. They besiege Timoges, ivhich has some Fnglish 
garrison, but is really commanded by the Bishop of Timoges, a 
trusted lieutenant of the Black Prince. 

Sir Bertrand's arrival at the siege greatly heartened the 
French and made a deep impression both inside the city and 
outside. He immediately went to work on the negotiations 
which had already begun between the Bishop of Limoges and 
the Duke of Berry and concluded them so skilfully that the 
Bishop and the defenders of Limoges went over to the French 
side. The Dukes of Berry and Bourbon, Lord Guy de Blois 
and the chief French nobles entered Limoges amid general 
rejoicing and received the, homage and pledges of loyalty of 
its inhabitants. After three days spent in resting and refreshing 
themselves, they decided to break off campaigning for that 
season, as the Duke of Anjou had already done, and go back 
home to guard their towns and fortresses against Sir Robert 
Knollys, who was leading an army through France. They 
considered they had done enough by taking a city such as 
Limoges. The French lords therefore dispersed, while Sir 
Bertrand remained in the Limousin region with two hundred 
lances, basing himself on the castles of the Lord of Melval 
who had turned French. 

Before the Duke of Berry left Limoges, he had instructed 
Sir Jean de Villemur, Sir Hugues de la Roche and Roger de 
Beaufort to remain in the city with a hundred men-at-arms at 
the Bishop's request. Then he withdrew to Berry and the 
Duke of Bourbon to the Bourbonnais and the other nobles 
from the distant marches returned to their domains. 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

When news reached the Prince of Wales that Limoges had 
gone over to the French and that the Bishop of the place, who 
was the godfather of one of his children and in whom he had 
always placed the greatest trust, had been concerned in all the 
negotiations and had been a party to the surrender, he was 
furiously angry and lost much of his esteem for churchmen, in 
whom he had previously had great faith. He swore on the 
soul of his father - an oath which he never broke - that he 
would attend to no other business until he had won the city 
back and had made the traitors pay dearly for their disloyalty. 
When assembled, his army numbered twelve hundred lances, 
knights and squires, a thousand archers and three thousand 
foot-soldiers. With the Prince when he left Cognac were his 
two brothers, the Duke of Lancaster and the Earl of Cam- 
bridge, and the Earl of Pembroke, whom they also called their 
brother.' With him also were the Poitevin knights Sir Gui- 
chard d'Angle, Sir Louis d'Harcourt and others ; the Lord of 
Montferrant, the Lord of Chaumont and many others, 
Gascons; Sir Thomas Percy, Sir William Beauchamp, Sir 
Michael de la Pole and others, English; the Hainaulter Sir 
Eustace d'Aubrecicourt; and from the Companies, Sir Per- 
ducas d'Albret, Naudon de Bageran, Lamit, the Bastard of 
Lesparre, the Bastard of Breteuil, Espiote, Bernadet de Wist 
and numerous others. 

All these warlike men set out in full array and took the 
field, and the whole country began to tremble before them. 
By that time the Prince was no longer able to ride a horse, 
but was taken on a litter with a splendid escort. They moved 
forward until they reached Limoges and immediately estab- 
lished themselves round it. The Prince swore that he would 
not leave until he had it at his mercy. The Bishop and the chief 
citi2ens knew that they had acted very wrongly and had in- 
curred the Prince's wrath, and they regretted it bitterly. But 
there was nothing they could do, for they were not masters in 
their city. Sir Jean de Villemur, Sir Hugues de la Roche and 
Roger de Beaufort, its captains, did their best to reassure 

I. Their brother-in-law John Hastings, Earl of Pembroke, married 
Margaret, youngest daughter of Edward III. 



them, when they saw how frightened they were, by saying: 
'Sirs, take courage. We are strong and numerous enough to 
resist the Prince's army. He cannot take us by assault or do 
us much harm. We are too well provided with artillery.' 

It was quite true that when the Prince and his marshals had 
thoroughly examined the massive fortifications of Limoges 
and had learnt the number of the knights and squires in the 
garrison, they recognized that they would never be able to 
take it by assault. So they put a different tactic into operation. 

The Prince habitually took with him on his expeditions a 
large body of those rough labourers called miners. These 
were immediately set to work and began driving rapidly for- 
ward with their mine. 

For about a month, certainly not longer, the Prince of Wales 
remained before Limoges. During that time he allowed no 
assaults or skirmishes, but pushed on steadily with the mining. 
The knights inside and the townspeople, who knew what was 
going on, started a countermine in the hope of killing the 
English miners, but it was a failure. When the Prince's miners 
who, as they dug, were continually shoring up their tunnel, 
had completed their work, they said to the Prince : ' My lord, 
whenever you like now we can bring a big piece of wall down 
into the moat, so that you can get into the city quite easily and 

The Prince was very pleased to hear this. * Excellent,' he 
said. *At six o'clock tomorrow morning show me what you 
can do.' 

When they knew it was the right time for it, the miners 
started a fire in their mine. In the morning, just as the Prince 
had specified, a great section of the wall collapsed, filling the 
moat at the place where it fell. For the English, who were 
armed and ready waiting, it was a welcome sight. Those on 
foot could enter as they liked, and did so. They rushed to the 
gate, cut through the bars holding it and knocked it down. 
They did the same with the barriers outside, meeting with no 
resistance. It was all done so quickly that the people in the 
town were taken unawares. Then the Prince, the Duke of 


BOOK ONE (1522-77) 

Lancaster, the Earl of Cambridge, Sir Guichard d'Angle, 
with all the others and their men burst into the city, followed 
by pillagers on foot, all in a mood to wreak havoc and do 
murder, killing indiscriminately, for those were their orders. 
There were pitiful scenes. Men, women and children flung 
themselves on their knees before the Prince, crying: 'Have 
mercy on us, gentle sir!' But he was so inflamed with anger 
that he would not listen. Neither man nor woman was heeded, 
but all who could be found were put to the sword, including 
many who were in no way to blame. I do not understand how 
they could have failed to take pity on people who were too 
unimportant to have committed treason. Yet they paid for it, 
and paid more dearly than the leaders who had committed it. 
There is no man so hard-hearted that, if he had been in 
Limoges on that day, and had remembered God, he would 
not have wept bitterly at the fearful slaughter which took 
place. More than three thousand persons, men, women and 
children, were dragged out to have their throats cut. May God 
receive their souls, for they were true martyrs. 

When they first broke into the town a contingent of the 
English made for the Bishop's palace. He was discovered and 
seized, and brought without ceremony before the Prince, who 
looked at him very grimly. The kindest word he could find to 
say was that, by God and St George, he would have his head 
cut ofl^. Then he had him removed from his presence. 

As for the knights who commanded in Limoges, Sir Jean 
de Villemur, Sir Hugues de la Roche, and Roger de Beau- 
fort, son of the Count of Beaufort, when they saw the disaster 
which had overtaken them, they said: 'There's no hope for 
us, but we'll sell our lives dearly, as knights ought to do.' 
Sir Jean de Villemur said to Roger de Beaufort: 'Roger, 
you must be made a knight.' Roger replied: ' Sir, I am not yet 
worthy of knighthood, but all my thanks for thinking of it.' 
Nothing more was said, indeed there was no time for much 
conversation. They took up position in a square with their 
backs against an old wall, and there Sir Jean and Sir Hugues 
unfurled their banners and put themselves in a posture of 



defence. They had about eighty men altogether. Soon the 
Duke of Lancaster and the Earl of Cambridge with their 
company came upon them and, dismounting when they 
saw them, attacked them lustily. Their men did not last long 
against the English, but were soon scattered and either 
killed or captured. 

There was a long hand-to-hand combat between the Duke 
of Lancaster and Sir Jean de Villemur, who was a fine knight, 
strong and of superb physique; also between the Earl of 
Cambridge and Sir Hugues de la Roche, and between the 
Earl of Pembroke and Roger de Beaufort. Those three 
against three gave a masterly display of skilful fighting. The 
others let them fight it out; it would have gone ill with any 
who tried to interfere. Presently the Prince came that way in 
his wheeled litter and watched them with keen interest, until 
he grew calmer and his anger ebbed away at the sight of them. 
At length the three Frenchmen stopped fighting with one 
accord and said, giving up their swords : ' Sirs, we are yours, 
you have beaten us. Treat us according to the law of arms.' 
'By God, Sir Jean,' said the Duke of Lancaster, 'we would 
never dream of doing anything else. We accept you as our 
prisoners.' That, as I was informed later, was how the three 
Frenchmen were captured. 

But there was no respite elsewhere. The city of Limoges 
was pillaged and sacked without mercy, then burnt and utterly 
destroyed. The English left, taking their prisoners with them, 
and returned to Cognac, where the Princess was, and where 
the Prince dismissed all his fighting men. He did nothing 
more that season, for he felt very unwell and was growing 
worse daily, to the great concern of his brothers and his 

Now, as to what happened to the Bishop of Limoges, who 
was in grave danger of losing his head - the Duke of Lan- 
caster requested liim of the Prince, who agreed to give him up 
and handed him over to his brother to do as he liked with. 
The Bishop had friends on the road they were travelling, and 
these informed Pope Urban, who had recently arrived in 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

Avignon from Rome. This was a fortunate chance for the 
Bishop, who otherwise would have lost his life. The Pope 
requested the Duke to hand him over to him in such per- 
suasive and amicable terms that the Duke felt unable to refuse. 
He complied and sent the Bishop to him, for which the Pope 
was duly grateful. 


The Turn of the Tide 


When the King of France heard of the retaking and destruc- 
tion of Limoges, he was greatly angered and his heart ached 
for the sufferings of its inhabitants. It was therefore decided 
by the council of the nobles and prelates, strongly supported 
by the common feeling of the whole kingdom, that it was a 
necessity for the French to have a supreme commander, with 
the title of Constable, for Sir Moreau de Fiennes wished to 
resign that office. What was needed was an enterprising soldier 
who was himself a brave fighter and popular with all the 
knights and squires. After full consideration. Sir Bertrand du 
Guesclin was unanimously chosen, provided he was willing 
to accept, as the worthiest and most suitable man for the post, 
as well as the most gallant and successful leader fighting at that 
time in the service of France. 

Du Guesclin is sent for and at first refuses the honour, on the 
grounds that he is too poor and humble a knight to command the great 
nobles of France, and particularly the dukes and princes of the rojal 
familj. The King overrides this objection. 

The King answered and said: 'Sir Bertrand, you cannot 
excuse yourself on those grounds. I have neither brother nor 
cousin nor nephew, nor count, nor baron in my kingdom 
who would refuse to obey you. If any did, it would anger me 
so much that he would soon hear about it. So take the post 
with an easy mind. I beg you to.' 

Sir Bertrand saw that none of the excuses he could make or 
think of would have any weight, so finally he gave in to the 
King's demands, though very much against his will. He was 
invested amid great rejoicing with the office of Constable of 
France and, in order to strengthen his authority, the King 
placed him next to him at his table and showed him all 
possible favours. With the office, he made him several 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

handsome gifts of domains and rents for himself and his 
heirs in perpetuity. The Duke of Anjou took an active part in 
securing his promotion. 


The tide of war begins to turn. Towns and castles are going over to the 
French in territories recognised as English by the Treaty of Bretignj. 
A powerful factor in this change of heart are the military successes 
of Du Guesclin, who in I^J2 conducts a campaign in Poitou. When 
the city of Poitiers is threatened, the English commander of the 
neighbouring port of Lm Kochelle, Sir John Devereux, takes about 
half his own garrison to reinforce it. Other events supervene. The 
citi':(ens of Poitiers themselves open their gates to Du Guesclin, while 
La Rochelle is blockaded by a fleet provided by the King of Castile, 
Henry of Trastamara. 

The people of La Rochelle were in secret negotiation with 
Owen of Wales,' who had been blockading them by sea, and 
with the Constable of France who was at Poitiers. But they 
dared do nothing openly because their castle was still held by 
the English, and without the castle they would not contem- 
plate going over to the French. When John Devereux, as I 
have recorded earlier, went to carry support to the people of 
Poitiers, he left in charge a squire called Philippot Mansel, a 
happy-go-lucky sort of fellow, with about sixty soldiers under 

The mayor of La Rochelle at that time was a very sharp- 
witted man, shrewd in all his undertakings, and a good 
Frenchman at heart, as he was to show. When he saw that the 
moment had come, he put his scheme into operation, having 
already consulted some of the citizens who were of the same 
mind. This mayor, whose name was Jean Caudourier, knew 
that Philippot, though a good fighting soldier, was neither 
cautious nor very astute and had not an ounce of guile in him. 

I. An independent military leader who had offered his services to the 
King of France and claimed descent from the native Welsh rulers dis- 
possessed by Edward I in the previous century. Froissart says that he held 
joint command of the blockading fleet with the Spanish admiral. 



So one day he invited him to dinner with some of the burgesses. 
Suspecting nothing, PhiUppot accepted the invitation and 
went. Before they sat down, Jean Caudourier, who had 
already laid his plans and told his companions about them, 
said to PhiUppot: 'Yesterday I received a message from our 
very dear lord the King of England which I am sure will 
interest you.' 'What was it?' asked Philippot. 'I will show 
you,' said the mayor, 'and I will have it read out to you, as of 
course it should be.' 

He went to a chest and took out an open letter which had 
been sealed some time before with the great seal of Edward 
III and had no connexion with the present matter. But the 
mayor made it appear to have and said to Philippot : ' Here it 
is.' He showed him the seal, which quite convinced him 
because he recognized it. But he could not read, which made 
him easy to trick. Jean Caudourier then called a secretary, 
whom he had already rehearsed in what he had to do, and 
said: 'Read this letter to us.' The secretary took the letter and 
pretended to read a message which he himself made up, to the 
effect that the King of England ordered the mayor to hold a 
parade of all the fighting men in the city of La Rochelle and 
to report their numbers to him by the bearer of the present 
letter. The same was to be done for the men in the castle, 
because he expected to visit the place himself before long. 

When all this had been said, as though it was being read out 
from the letter, the mayor said to Philippot: 'Captain, you 
have heard the orders which our lord the King sends me. I 
accordingly command you in his name to parade your men 
tomorrow on the square in front of the castle, and immedi- 
ately after your parade I will hold mine in the same place, 
where you can see it. We will then each write back to our very 
dear sovereign lord, giving him an exact account of our 
numbers. And another thing: if your fellow-soldiers need 
money, I have a strong feeling that, after the parade, I shall 
lend you some to bring their pay up to date. That will meet 
what the King tells me in another, private, letter, in which he 
instructs me to pay them out of my own funds.' 

PliiUppot, who completely believed everything he had 


BOOK ONE (l^ZZ--/j) 

heard, said : ' By God, yes, mayor ! Since I have to hold a parade 
I will be glad to do it tomorrow, and the fellows will be glad to 
turn out, if it means they're going to be paid. Money is what 
they need.' 

The matter was taken as settled. They went in to dinner and 
had a thoroughly enjoyable time. After dinner, Philippot 
returned to the castle and told his men what had happened, 
adding: 'Cheer up, lads. Immediately after tomorrow's parade 
you are going to be paid. The King has sent orders about it 
to the mayor of this town, and I've seen the letters.' The 
soldiers, who really did need money, for they were owed 
three months' pay or more, answered: 'That's wonderful 
news ! ' They began to polish their helmets, scour their armour, 
and shine up their swords or whatever weapons they had. 

That evening Jean Caudourier made his secret preparations 
and informed most of the townspeople whom he knew to be 
on his side, giving them instructions as to how they should act 
the next day. Quite near to the castle and in the square where 
the parade was to be held, there were some old, uninhabited 
houses. In these the mayor had decided to post four hundred 
men in hiding, chosen from among the most martial in the 
town. When the soldiers had come out from the castle, these 
were to appear behind them and bar their way back, so trap- 
ping them. That was the best way he could see of getting the 
better of them. This plan was followed and the townsmen who 
were to take part in the ambush were chosen. They went 
secretly to their posts at dead of night, armed to the teeth 
and primed on what they had to do. 

Soon after sunrise next morning the mayor and the coun- 
cillors, accompanied only by some of their officials, set off 
completely unarmed, as a cover to lure out the garrison more 
easily, and arrived in the square for the parade. They were all 
mounted on big, strong horses, so as to get away quickly 
when the trouble began. At the sight of them, the captain 
of the castle hurried his men on, shouting: 'Come on, down 
to the square! They're waiting for us.' 

The garrison poured out of the castle unsuspectingly, eager 
to parade and looking forward to their money, leaving only 



the menials inside. They left the gate wide open because they 
expected to go back through it before long and they got 
ready to be reviewed by the mayor and council. While they 
were all standing there in a bunch, the mayor kept up the 
deception by going from one to another and saying: 'You 
haven't got all your equipment with you to draw full pay. 
You must put that right,' and they answered: 'Yes, j/r.' 
With such jokes and quips he held their attention until the 
ambushers came out, armed to the last buckle, placed them- 
selves between the garrison and the castle, and seized the 

At that point the mayor and councillors galloped off, 
leaving their men to deal with the soldiers, who were very 
quickly mastered and taken prisoner, for they saw that re- 
sistance was useless. They were disarmed one by one in the 
square and imprisoned in various places in the town, in 
towers and gatehouses, with never more than two of them 
together. Soon afterwards, the mayor came back to the square 
fully armed, followed by over a thousand men. He made for 
the castle, which surrendered to him immediately, since there 
were none but humble people, maids and menservants, inside. 
These were only too glad to be allowed to surrender and be 
left in peace. In that way the castle of La Rochelle was retaken. 

The people of L,a Kochelle retain control of their town and refuse 
to open the gates to the French without certain guarantees. 

Now as to the conditions on which the people of La 
Rochelle stood firm and insisted: to begin with, they sent 
twelve of the most prominent citizens to the King in Paris, 
after delivery of a safe-conduct from him for the journey in 
both directions. The King, who desired to have them as his 
friends and subjects, received them well and was ready to 
listen to their demands, which were these: 

Their first requirement, before they swore fealty to the 
King, was that the castle at La Rochelle should be demolished. 
Next, they demanded that the King of France and his heirs in 
perpetuity should hold La Rochelle as a crown domain, 
which should never be alienated in consequence of any peace- 
treaty, agreement, marriage or pact whatsoever with the 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

King of England or any other lord. Thirdly, they requested 
the King to have minted in their town coinage of exactly the 
same value and alloy as that minted in Paris. Fourthly, they 
demanded that no King of France, his heirs or successors, 
should have power to impose upon them or their tenant- 
farmers any income or property-tax, levy, salt-tax, duty, 
hearth-tax or anything similar, without their free consent. 
Fifthly, they desired and requested of the King that he would 
have them absolved of the promises and oaths which they had 
sworn to the King of England, to break which would be 
gravely prejudicial to their souls and would weigh heavily on 
their consciences; wherefore they desired the King, at his 
own expense, to obtain for them from their Holy Father the 
Pope absolution and dispensation for all their infringements. 
The King does not easily agree to these conditions^ but after some 
stijf bargaining he accepts them all. Du Guesclin is sent to I^a 
Kochelle and receives the homage of the townspeople as the King' 


The war continues to run in favour of the French. More castles near 
La Roche lie and in other parts of Poitou change sides voluntarily or 
are taken by Du Guesclin. A relief expedition led bj Edward III in 
person is prevented from landing by contrary ivinds and returns to 
England. The struggle is carried successfully to Brittany^ whose Duke^ 
King Edward" s ally and son-in-law^ flees to England. I^ rob ably in 
order to create a diversion in his favour, an English army crosses to 
Calais in the late summer of i ^y^. 

This army was to be commanded by the King's son, Lan- 
caster, and the Duke of Brittany. They were to arrive in the 
harbour of Calais and then pass through Picardy. Their inten- 
tion was, unless the weather proved unfavourable, to make 
their way between the Seine and the Loire, find supplies for 
themselves in Normandy and Brittany, carry support to the 
fortresses which remained English - Becherel, Saint-Sauveur, 
Brest and Derval - and fight the French wherever they found 
them, if they were willing to come to battle. . . . 



So they were at Calais with three thousand men-at-arms and 
six thousand archers, and at least two thousand other men. 
Among this force were three hundred lances made up of 
native Scotsmen who served the King of England for pay.^ 
The Constable of the whole army was Edward, Lord Des- 
penser, one of the great barons of England, a spirited, cour- 
teous and gallant knight and a fine leader of men, who had 
been appointed to the post by the King himself. The Marshals 
were the Earls of Warwick and Suffolk. 

Striking out into Picardy, the English find the fortified places 

forewarned and closed against them, Thej meet French contingents in 

occasional skirmishes, hit achieve fjothing decisive. Meanwhile, 

Charles V has begun to recall his chief commanders from Brittany 

to face the invasion. 

The Dukes of Lancaster and Brittany with their men 
reached Vaux near Laon, where they halted for three days and 
obtained plentiful supplies. They found the country round 
there rich and stocked with food, for it was harvest-time. 
They held the farms and big villages to ransom on the threat 
of burning them, and were brought wine and sacks of flour, 
bullocks and sheep. The English plainly showed that they 
desired nothing more than to engage the French in battle, 
but the King of France, being doubtful of the result, would 
not permit his men to fight. Instead, he had the English closely 
followed and harried by five to six hundred lances who kept 
them in such a state of uncertainty that they never dared to 
disperse. In the city and on the hill of Laon were three hun- 
dred Breton and French lances who could see the English 
beneath them at Vaux, yet they never came down to attack 
them at evening, night or dawn. The English struck camp and 
went in the direction of Soissons, always keeping to the rivers 
and the most fertile country. As they w^ent they were continu- 
ally flanked by a good four hundred lances led by the Lord of 
CUsson, the Lord of Laval, the Viscount of Rohan and others. 
Sometimes they rode so near to each other that they could 
very easily have fought had they wanted to, and sometimes 
they talked to one another. For example. Sir Henry Percy, one 
I . There was a four-year truce between the two kingdoms. 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

of the most gallant of the English knights, was once riding 
across country with his troop and Sir Guillaume des Bordes 
and Sir Jean de Bueil were riding with theirs, and each was 
keeping exactly to its own trail. Sir Henry Percy, who was on 
a white charger, said to Sir Aimery of Namur, the son of the 
Count, who was nearest to him on the left: 'It's a fine day for 
hawking. Why don't you fly for a kill, since you've got 
wings?' 'Yes, Sir Percy,' said Sir Aimery, moving a httle out 
of line and making his horse curvet, 'that's a true word, it's 
good hawking for us. If it depended on me we would fly out 
after you.' 'I know you would, Aimery. Just persuade your 
friends to peel off. There's good game to be had.' In this ban- 
tering mood Sir Henry Percy rode for some time alongside the 
French, talking to that spirited young soldier, Aimery the 
Bastard of Namur. The two sides could have clashed often 
enough had they wished to, but they rode straight forward 
with perfect discipline. 

The whole way from Arras to Epernaj only two partial engage- 
ments take place, both to the disadvantage of the English. 

After the two engagements at Ribemont and Ouchy, the 
Duke of Lancaster and his men had not a single encounter 
worth recording while they were on French territory. They 
passed through many narrow and dangerous places, keeping 
well together and moving cautiously, but the French King's 
council gave him this advice: 'Let them go on. They cannot 
rob you of your heritage by fires and smoke. They will grow 
tired and crumble away to nothing. Sometimes a great storm- 
cloud appears over the country, but later it passes on and dis- 
perses of itself. So will it be with these English soldiers.' 

This seemingly passive attitude is criticised by some who feel that the 
nobility are failing in their duty by not bringing the English to open 
battle. A conference of military leaders is held in Paris to reconsider 
their strategy. 

When the principal members of the royal council were 
assembled, they went to a private room where the King 
opened the discussion on the situation just described and asked 
each to give his opinion upon it, with his reasons in favour of 
fighting or not fighting. The Constable was asked to speak 



first because of his experience of big set battles against the 
English. He made lengthy excuses and was unwilling to reply 
until the great nobles present, the Duke of Anjou, the Duke of 
Berr}% the Duke of Burgundy and the Count of Alencon, had 
given their opinion. However, he was pressed so hard by all 
of them that finally he was obliged to speak. He said to the 

'Sire, these who talk of fighting the English do not con- 
sider the risk they may be running. I do not say they should 
not be fought, but 1 want it to be done from a position of ad- 
vantage, as they know how to do so well and have done so 
often - at Poitiers, at Crecy, in Gascony, in Brittany, in Bur- 
gundy, in France, in Picardy, in Normandy. All those vic- 
tories of theirs have done great harm to your kingdom and its 
nobility and have filled them with such pride that they despise 
all other nations because of the huge ransoms they have had 
from them, which have made them grow rich and arrogant. 
My fellow-soldier here, the Lord of Clisson, can speak with 
more knowledge of them than I can,^ since he was brought up 
among them in his youth. He has a better acquaintance with 
their ways and character than any of us. So I will ask him, if it 
is your pleasure, my lord, to speak in support of what I have 
been saying.' 

The King looked at the Lord of CUsson and, in order to 
satisfy Sir Bertrand, asked him in the most courteous way if he 
would kindly give his opinion. The Lord of Clisson did not 
hesitate to accept, and spoke strongly in support of the 
Constable, saying that his advice was excellent, for reasons 
which he presently gave: 

'As God hears me, my lords, the EngUsh are so filled with 

their own greatness and have won so many big victories that 

they have come to believe they cannot lose. In battle they are 

the most confident nation in the world. The more blood they 

I . Olivier de Clisson came of a great Breton family' which served both 
the French and English crowns at different times. After his father's execu- 
tion for treason in Paris (i 343) the young Olivier, aged seven or eight, was 
taken by his mother to England and brought up at the court of Edward III, 
who treated him generously. He fought on the English side for a con- 
siderable time, going over openly to the French only in January 1370. 



see flowing, whether it is their enemy's or their own, the 
fiercer and more determined they grow. And they say that 
their luck will always hold, as long as their King is alive. So 
in my humble opinion it would be inadvisable to fight 
them unless they can be taken at a disadvantage, in the way 
one should take one's enemy. I notice that the affairs of France 
are now prospering and that what the English took from us by 
skilful strategy, they have now lost. Therefore, my dear lord, 
if you approved of the advice which the Constable gave you, 
go on approving it.' 

*Yes indeed,' said the King. 'I have no intention of march- 
ing out and hazarding my knights and my kingdom for a bit 
of farming land. From now on I again entrust you, together 
with the Constable, with the whole responsibility for my 
realm, because I think your opinion is the right one. And you, 
my brother of Anjou, what would you say?' 

* Simply this,' said the Duke of Anjou, 'that anyone who 
gave you different advice would be betraying our interests. 
We shall still be waging war against the English, just as before. 
But when they expect to find us in one part of the country, 
we shall be in another, and we shall take from them when it 
best suits us the few pieces of territory they still hold. I hope 
to do so well, with the help of our two friends here, that 
before long it will be possible to say that, within the borders 
of Aquitaine and Upper Gascony, they haven't got much left.' 

This satisfied the King completely and the decision was 
taken not to fight the English, except in the way that had been 
proposed. After the conference, the Constable and Sir Olivier 
de Clisson left Paris with some five hundred lances and made 
for Troyes. The English were heading that way, having 
crossed and recrossed the Marne without difficulty. Wherever 
they found the bridges destroyed, over that or any other river, 
they made use of the carpenters and other workmen they had 
with them, who quickly built a new bridge, provided they 
could find the wood. They had brought skilled men of all 
trades from England with them. 

The army of the two Dukes lay before the towns of Vertus 
and fipernay. They forced the whole country round there to 



supply them with provisions. They found much plunder and 
booty near that fine river, the Marne, of which they were 
lords and masters, since none came out against them. Then 
they moved up-river towards Chalons in Champagne, but 
they did not go very near it and branched off (south) towards 
Troyes. There the Dukes of Burgundy and Bourbon had 
already arrived with the Constable and the Lord of Clisson. 
Their forces now numbered at least twelve hundred lances. 
They garrisoned the town and waited for the English, who 
were devastating the surrounding country. 

The English appear outside Troyes, but there is no fighting, except 
for minor skirmishes. Two papal legates have reached the ar?nies in 
the hope of arranging a cessation of hostilities, hut neither side is 
interested. 'Eventually the English move on. 

So the Dukes of Lancaster and Brittany campaigned across 
the kingdom of France at the head of their men, never finding 
anyone to meet them in a real battle, though they asked 
nothing better. Many times they sent their heralds to the 
commanders who were pursuing them, demanding battle 
and proposing various arrangements. But the French refused 
to listen; none of the challenges and proposals that the 
English sent to them came to anything. They shadowed them 
at one hour on the right and the next on the left, as the courses 
of the rivers demanded, and they were quartered nearly every 
night in strong towns or castles, where every comfort was to 
be had. But the English camped in the open country, living on 
very short commons and exposed to the cold when winter 
came, for they passed through some very poverty-stricken dis- 
tricts in Limousin, Rouergue and the Agenois. The greatest 
and grandest among them sometimes went for six days with- 
out tasting bread. Indeed, that often happened from the 
moment they entered Auvergne, for towards the end of their 
ride they were being followed by as many as three thousand 
lances and they dared not go out foraging unless all of them 
went together. In this plight nevertheless they crossed all the 
rivers between the Seine and Bordeaux, the Loire, the Allier, 
the Dordogne, the Garonne and several other big streams 
w^hich run down from the mountains of Auvergne. But as to 


BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

their wagon-train, it is not hard to guess what became of 
that. Less than a third of it reached Bordeaux, either because 
the horses succumbed or because it could not get over the 
mountain passes. And many knights and squires died on the 
way of the cold or the sicknesses which they caught in the 
winter, for it was after Christmas when they entered the city 
of Bordeaux. Other knights contracted illnesses of which 
they died later, in particular the Constable of the army, ■ 
Edward Lord Despenser,^ who was deeply mourned by all his 
friends. He was a noble heart and a gallant knight, open- 
handed and chivalrous. May God have mercy on his soul. 

I . Edward Lc Despenser, grandson of the younger Despenser executed 
in 1326, died in 1375. He had been a patron of Froissart's during the 
latter's stay in England in the thirteen-sixties. 


The 6nd of a %eign {i^yd-y) 

In 1376 King Edward of England celebrated his jubilee, 
having ruled for fifty years. The same year had seen the death 
of his eldest son Edward, Prince of Wales and of Aquitaine, 
the flower of the world's knighthood at that time and the most 
successful soldier of his age. This most gallant man and 
chivalrous prince died at the palace of Westminster outside 
the city of London on Trinity Sunday, the eighth of June, 
1376. He was deeply mourned for his noble qualities and on 
his deathbed he made a full repentance and professed his firm 
faith and humblest submission to God. In order to show him 
the utmost honour and respect, as he so richly deserved on 
account of his exploits in war, his body was embalmed and 
placed in a lead coffin, in which it w^as sealed, except for the 
face, and was thus kept until Michaelmas, when all the pre- 
lates, barons and knights of England came to his funeral at 

As soon as the King of France was informed of the death of 
his cousin the Prince of Wales, he had his obsequies performed 
with great solemnity in the Sainte Chapelle in Paris. They 
were attended by his brothers and by many of the principal 
French barons and knights. And the King of France maintained 
that the Prince had ruled his domains nobly and worthily. 

When All Saints Day came. King Edward sent his envoys 
to the peace talks at Bruges,^ as previously arranged. They 
were Sir John Montagu, Lord Cobham, the Bishop of Here- 
ford and the Dean of St Paul's in London. The King of France 
sent the Count of Saarbruck, the Lord of Chatillon and Sir 
Philibert de I'Espinasse. The two papal legates were again 
there as negotiators. These envoys and negotiators remained 
at Bruges for a long time, but they accompHshed little. 
Nothing came to a head, for the English made demands and 
the French also. 

1 . Initiated inconclusively the previous year. 

BOOK ONE (1522-77) 

Towards Lent, however, a secret draft treaty was agreed 
between them. The English envoys were to take their copy to 
England and the French to France, each submitting it to their 
King. They, or other emissaries of the two kings, were to 
meet again at Montreuil-sur-mer, and on that condition the 
truces were extended to the first of May.- The two delegations 
returned to their respective countries and made a report on 
the state in which they had left things. The French then sent 
to Montreuil-sur-mer the Lord de Coucy, the Lord de La 
Riviere, Sir Nicolas Braque and Nicolas Le Mercier, and the 
English Sir Guichard d'Angle, Sir Richard Stury and Geoffrey 
Chaucer. These nobles and envoys had long discussions about 
a marriage between the young Richard, son of the Prince 
of Wales, and Princess Marie, the daughter of the King 
of France. Then the English returned to England and the 
French to France and the truces were extended for another 

I forgot to mention that on Christmas Day of that year 
(1376) the King of England held a great and solemn feast in 
his palace of Westminster, which all the prelates, earls, barons 
and knights of England were commanded to attend. And 
there Richard, the Prince's son, w^as raised up and carried before 
the King, who invested him, in the presence of the lords just 
mentioned, with the succession to the throne of England, to 
hold it after his death; and he seated him beside him. He re- 
quired an oath from all prelates, barons, knights, officers of 
the cities and the towns, of the ports and frontier-posts of 
England, that they would recognize him as their king. After 
this, the noble King Edward fell into a sickness of which he 
died within a year, as I shall record later. But first let us return 
to the ineffectual negotiations and peace talks. 

This time an English delegation is sent to Calais and a French 
delegation to Montreuil. No doubt because of growing suspicions of 
each other they never meet face to face. Their only contact is through 
the papal legates who journey to and fro between them. 

Their negotiations still bore on the marriage mentioned 
above, the French offering, with the daughter of their king, 
twelve cities in France, that is to say, in the Duchy of Aqui- 



taine; but they wanted to see Calais demolished.' So the 
negotiations were broken off and matters were left in suspense. 
There was no further extension of the truce. The French re- 
turned to France and the war was renewed. 

During the whole time since the fruitless peace negotiations 
had begun at Bruges, the King of France had been keeping a 
powerful fleet at sea, which he intended to use against Eng- 
land. King Henry of Spain had suppUed him with galleys and 
big ships and had lent him one of his principal admirals, Don 
Fernan Sanchez de Tomar,^ the French admiral being Sir 
Jean de Vienne. With him were a number of experienced 
knights and squires from Burgundy, Champagne and Picardy. 
These sailors were now cruising about, waiting only for word 
that the war had been renewed. The fact was well known in 
England, since the commanders of the EngUsh islands, 
Jersey, Guernsey and Wight, had reported it to the King's 
council. The King himself was now very ill and unable to 
attend to the affairs of the realm, which were referred to his 
son, the Duke of Lancaster. He was, indeed, so weak that the 
doctors had given up hope of his recovery. So Sir John 
Arundel was sent to Southampton with two hundred men-at- 
arms and three hundred archers to guard the harbour, town 
and coast against the French. 

On 21 June 1377, the gallant and noble King Edward III 
departed this life, to the deep distress of the whole realm of 
England, for he had been a good king for them. His like had 

1. Describing the first round of negotiations in 1375, Froissart had 
written : ' The King of England made impossible demands, to which the 
French would never have consented : restoration of all the territories which 
the King of France or his dependents had taken from him, payment of all 
money which was stUl due when the above-mentioned peace was broken, 
and the Captal de Buch released from prison. For his part the King of 
France wanted to have the town and castle of Calais razed to the ground, 
as a first condition of any agreement and, as to the money, quite the oppo- 
site: he wanted the entire sum which his father King John and he himself 
had paid to be returned to him. These were things which the King of 
England would never have agreed to : the return of the money and the 
destruction of Calais.' 

2. Froissart: Dan Ferrans Sanses de Touwars. 

BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

not been seen since the days of King Arthur, who once had 
also been King of England, which in his time was called 
Great Britain. So King Edward was embalmed and placed 
with great pomp and reverence on a bier borne by twenty- 
four knights dressed in black, his three sons and the Duke of 
Brittany and the Earl of March walking behind him, and 
carried thus at a slow march through the city of London, the 
face uncovered. To witness and hear the grief of the people, 
their sobs and screams and lamentations on that day, would 
have rended anyone's heart. 

So the body of the noble king was taken through London to 
Westminster and buried beside his wife, Philippa of Hainault, 
Queen of England, as they had appointed in their lifetime. . . . 

After the funeral, it was seen that England could not remain 
for long without a king and that it was in the interests of the 
whole country to crown as early as possible the successor 
whom the late king had invested in his lifetime. The prelates, 
earls, barons, knights and commons of England therefore 
arranged a date in the near future on which to crown the 
heir, the young Richard, son of the Prince of Wales ; and they 
reached this decision unanimously. 

In the same week in which the King died, the envoys who 
had been at Calais, the Earl of Salisbury and Sir Guichard 
d'Angle, returned to England. Great was their grief when 
they learnt of the King's death, but they had to submit to 
God's will. All the frontiers of England were then closed, 
and no one left the country at any point whatever. This was 
to give time to put the aflfairs of the realm in order before the 
death of its great king was known. 

Now I will turn to the French forces at sea. On the eve of 
St Peter's and St Paul's day, 29 June, the French landed in 
Sussex near the borders of Kent, in a fairly large town of 
fishermen and sailors called Rye. They pillaged and plundered 
it and burnt it completely. Then they returned to their ships 
and went down the Channel to the coast of Hampshire, but 
they did not land there just then. 

When news of this reached London, where the whole 



country was assembling to crown the young King Richard, 
it caused great consternation. The nobles and the population 
with them said: 'We must make haste to crown our king 
and then go against these French before they do us more 
damage.' So the young Richard was crowned in the Palace of 
Westminster on the eighth of July, 1377, in his eleventh year. 
On the same day he created nine knights and five earls. As I 
do not know the names of the knights, I will pass them over, 
but I can name the earls. First, his uncle Thomas was made 
Earl of Buckingham ; Sir Henry Percy became Earl of North- 
umberland; the King's brother. Sir Thomas Holland, became 
Earl of Kent; his tutor, Sir Guichard d'Angle, Earl of Hunt- 
ingdon and Sir John Mowbray, Earl of Nottingham. Im- 
mediately after this ceremony and the coronation, it was 
decided who should go to Dover to guard the port and who 
should be sent elsewhere. The two brothers, the Earls of 
Cambridge and Buckingham, were chosen for Dover with 
four hundred men-at-arms and six hundred archers, and the 
Earl of Salisbury and his brother Sir John Montagu were 
sent to another good seaport called Pesk^ with two hundred 
men-at-arms and three hundred archers. 

The French land on the Isle of Wight, disembark their horses, and 
go marauding over the island. They re-emhark and make for ^ Ha tup- 
tonne'' {Southampton or Portsmouth), where they are fought off by 
Sir John Arundel, ivho is guarding the Hampshire coast. They then 
sail east and, after failing to land at ' Vesk ', defended by Montagu 
and Salisbury, they land at ' a good big village on the sea with a fine 
priory, which is called Tyaus\ This would be JLewes, a riverport on 
the Sussex Ouse {though the landing was in fact at Kottingdean). 
The defenders ofl^ewes are defeated and the town and some of the sur- 
rounding villages burnt. From the Fnglish prisoners taken back to 
France is learnt the first news of the death of Edward III. ^ 

1. Probably Pevensey. 

2. The chronology of this passage in Froissart, like some of the topo- 
graphy, is confused. The landing near Lewes occurred soon after the sack 
of Rye, as part of the same operation, and it is quite credible that prisoners 
taken then gave the first news of the King's death. The landing on the Isle 
of Wight came later : on 2 1 August according to Walsingham's Historia 

BOOK ONE (1322-77) 

When the King of France learnt of the death of his ad- 
versary the King of England and the accession of King 
Richard, he was no less preoccupied than before. But he 
showed no signs of it and prepared to commemorate the death 
of his cousin of England, whom, as long as peace had lasted, 
he had called brother. His obsequies were celebrated in the 
Sainte Chapelle of Paris with as much pomp and ceremony 
as if King Edward had indeed been his cousin german. By 
this the King of France proved himself to be a most honour- 
able man, for he could well have dispensed with it if he had 
wished to. 



^apal oAffairs and the (jreat Schism {iy/6-9) 

In ijop the seat of the Papacy had been moved, partly owing to 
French influence, from Kome to Avignon. Here, in the County of 
Provence, it was just outside the King of France's domains and safe 
from the interference of the Holy Koman Emperors in the unsettled 
state of Italy at that time. For nearly seventy years the Popes used 
Avignofi^as their sole official seat, until the developments described by 
Froissart took place. 

w'lien Pope Gre p jory XT. who at that time occupied the 
Holy See of Rome in the city of Avignon, saw that he could 
not bring about a peace between the Kings of France and 
England - to his great displeasure, for he and his cardinals 
had worked hard to that end - he formed the devout intention 
of revisiting Rome and the Holy See that St Peter and St Paul 
had established there. Also he had promised God as ^ Y^^"'"g 
man that, if in later life he e ver rose to^o^ high^an office as the 
^onjificate^he would do his utmo st to have his seat in the 
pl ace where S t l-' eter had had jt^ and nowhere eTse. This pope 
'was ot delicate constitution and particularly afraid of the 
effects of over-work, for he was often ill. At Avignon he was 
so taken up by the affairs of France and so harried by the King 
and his brothers, that he hardly had a moment to attend to his 
health, so he thought that he would get away from them to 
have more peace. He ordered preparations to be made for 
his journey on a scale befitting the great dignitary he was and 
he told his brother cardinals that he intended to go to Rom e. 
They were dismayed by his decision, for they feared the 
Romans and would have dissuaded him had they been able 
to, but they could not. 

When the King of France heard of it, he was greatly dis- 
turbed, because at Avignon the Pope was much nearer his 
reach than elsewhere. He wrote to his brother the Duke of 
Anjou, who was at Toulouse, asking him to go immediately 
to Avignon and persuade the Pope to countermand his 


BOOK TWO (1376-85) 

journey. The Duke went there and was received with delight 
by the cardinals and lodged in the Pope's palace so that he 
should have greater opportunities to talk with him. I need 
hardly say that he did his utmost to present the arguments 
against the plan, but the Pope refused to listen to him, and 
the whole time the Duke was in Avignon the preparations for 
the journey wxnt on. However, four cardinals were designated 
to remain in Avignon to attend to cismontane affairs. They 
were given full powers by the Pope to do all that could be 
done by them, with the reservation of certain papal matters 
which he cannot delegate to anyone. 

When the Duke of Anjou saw that he would not succeed by 
eloquence or argument, he took leave of the Pope, saying as 
he did so: 

' Holy Father, you are going to a country and among people 
where they have little love for you, and leaving the source of 
the faith and the kingdom in which the Church has more in- 
fluence and excellence than anywhere else in the world. This 
act of yours may well bring great disaster upon the Church, 
for if you die out there - which, by what your doctors tell 
me, is very probable - the Romans, w^ho are strange and 
treacherous people, will become lords and masters of all the 
cardinals and will force a pope of their own choosing to be 

In spite of these and other arguments, the Pope set out on 
his journey and reached Marseille where the galleys of Genoa 
were ready waiting for him, while the Duke of Anjou went 
back to Toulouse. 

Pope Gregory embarked at Marseille with a large and 
handsome retinue and had a smooth voyage as far as Genoa, 
where he landed. The galleys were reprovisioned and they 
then sailed on without incident to put in near Rome. Rejoicing 
at his arrival, the leading citizens came out on draped horses 
and led him in triumph into Rome. He took up his residence 
in the papal palace and paid visits to a church within the city 
called Santa Maria Maggiore, for which he had a great pre- 
dilection and which he had endowed with fine works of art. 
It was there that he died not very long after his arrival, on 



28 March 1378. His obsequies were held in the noble style 
befitting a pope. He was buried in that church and there his 
body lies. 

Immediately after his death, the cardinals met in conclave 
in the Palace of St Peter. As soon as they had gone in to hold 
their customary election of a pope who would work for the 
good of the Church, the Roman people assembled in violent 
crowds and made for the Vatican quarter. There were many 
thousands of them, all in a mood to cause trouble if things 
did not go according to their wishes. They said this kind 
of thing: 'Listen, our lord cardinals, hurry up and elect a 
pope, you are taking too long about it. And see that he's a 
Roman, we want no other kind. If he was from anywhere 
else, the Roman people and the Council would not 
recognize him as pope and you will all be in danger of your 

The cardinals, who were at the mercy of the Romans, felt 
very uneasy when they heard these threats. They did what 
they could to appease the crowds, but feeling mounted so high 
that those nearest to the conclave-hall, hoping to intimidate 
the cardinals and make them obey their will, broke into it. 
In fear of their lives, the cardinals fled in disorder, but the 
Romans did not stop at that. They rounded them up, willing 
or not, and told them to elect a pope. Seeing themselves 
entirely in the power of the Romans and in great danger, 
the cardinals made haste to satisfy them. Nevertheless, 
they did it by means of a proper election, choosing a very 
saintly man who was a native of Rome and had been made 
a cardinal by Urban V. He was known as the Cardinal of St 

This choice pleased the Romans greatly and the worthy 
man was given all the rights belonging to the pontificate, but 
he lived for only three days. This was why: the Romans were 
so delighted to have this pope that they took the good man, 
who was at least a hundred years old, set him on a white mule 
and paraded him round and round in the city, celebrating their 
triumph and exulting over the cardinals, until he became ex- 
hausted by the jolting and the terror he was in and on the 


BOOK TWO (1376-85) 

third day took to his bed and died. He was buried in the 
Basilica of St Peter, and there he HesJ 

The cardinals were distressed by the death of this pope, for 
they knew that it meant that further trouble was in store. 
Before he had died, they had planned to keep up a facade in 
Rome for two or three years and then transfer the See else- 
where, to Naples or Genoa, away from the reach of the 
Romans. But now everything had to be started afresh. They 
met again in conclave in worse conditions than before, for 
the Romans all gathered in St Peter's Square and showed only 
too plainly that they w^ould break in and massacre everyone if 
things did not go as they wished. They shouted to the 
cardinals inside : ' Make quite sure, our lord cardinals, you give 
us a Roman pope, and one that lasts this time. If not, we'll 
come and make your heads redder than your hats.' 

These threats ter rified the cardinals , who pref erred to die a s 
confes sors rattier than martyrs.. Thev therefore made haste to 
elbct-another pope. The man they chose was not one of their 
brother cardinals, but the Archbishop of Bari, a great cleric 
who had done much good work for the Church. 

After his election, the Cardinal of Geneva put his head out 
of one of the windows of the conclave-hall and called to the 
crowds: 'Calm yourselves now, you have a Roman pope, 
Bartholomew of the Eagles, Archbishop of Bari.' The people 
shouted back all together: 'He's all right for us!' 

The Archbishop was not in Rome on that day. I believe he 
was in Naples. He was quickly sent for, came to Rome de- 
lighted at the news, and presented himself to the cardinals. 
They gave him a great reception, he was taken and raised up 
among them and invested with all the rights of the Papacy, 
taking the name of Urban VI. The Romans were extremely 
pleased by this name, because of good Pope Urban V, who 
had held them in great affection. 

His creation was announced in all the churches of Christen- 

I. Though it seems a pity to spoil a good story partially, the Cardinal of 
St Peter was never elected pope. He was merely presented as such to the 
mob, in an endeavour to placate them. Also, he died some five months 



dom; also to the emperors, kings, dukes and counts. The 
cardinals wrote to their friends that they now had a properly 
elected pope - words which some of them later regretted 
having used so emphatically. The new pope revoked all dis- 
pensations granted previously. Clergy of all ranks accordingly 
left their homes for Rome to obtain new ones. 


(Not long after Urban VI had been made pope] a number of 
the cardinals decided to come together at a favourable oppor- 
tunity and elect another, because this pope was doing no good 
to them or the Church, being too arbitrary and capricious. 
When he discovered that he was great and powerful and saw 
various Christian kings writing to him to declare their 
allegiance, he grew presumptuous and began to act violently 
and wilfully, removing certain of their rights from the car- 
dinals, contrary to the customary practice. They were greatly 
offended and, discussing it among themselves, they concluded 
that he would never act in their interests and was unworthy to 
hold sway. S everal then proposed to elecLa . -different pope 
who would be both wise and powerful and rule the Church 

The cardinals put a great deal of work into this plan, par- 
ticularly the one who was later made pope. They were a whole 
summer debating it inconclusively, for those who favoured a 
new election dared not act openly for fear of the Romans. 
During the vacation of the court a number of the cardinals 
left Rome to forget their cares in various places of their 
choice. Urban went to Tivoli, and remained there for some 
time. During this vacation, which could not be extended for 
too long because a large number of clergy from different 
parts of the world were in Rome waiting for dispensations, 
of which many had been promised and approved, those car- 
dinals who were in agreement met together to institute a 
pope. Th eir choice fell on Robert of Geneva, w ho had first 
been bishop of Therouanne, then bishop of Cambrai, and was 
now known as the Cardinal of Geneva. After this election, at 


BOOK TWO (1376-85) 

which the majority of the cardinals were present, he took the 
name of Clement. 

At that time a very gallant knight from Brittany, called 
Silvester Bude, was in the neighbourhood of Rome, with two 
thousand Bretons under his command. They had all fought 
very bravely in previous years against the Florentines, whom 
Pope Gregory had excommunicated and made war upon 
because of their rebellion. Silvester Bude had done so well 
that they had surrendered ui;iconditionally. Pope Clement, 
and the cardinals who supported him, now sent secretly for 
him and his men. They came into the Vatican quarter and es- 
tablished themselves in the Castle of Sant'Angelo outside 
Rome, to coerce the Romans from there. Urban did not dare 
to leave Tivoli, neither did the cardinals who supported him. 
There were not many of these, for fear of the Bretons. These 
were in considerable strength and were all violent men, who 
overthrew everything they came up against. 

When the Romans found themselves in this situation, they 
sent for other German and Lombard mercenaries, who 
skirmished every day with the Bretons. Meanwhile, Clement 
granted indulgences and had his papal name published 
throughout Ch fistendom. v(/hen the k^rng of France was in- 
formed ot it, he was greatly surprised at first. He called to- 
gether his brothers, the chief barons, the prelates and the 
rector, masters and doctors of the University of Paris to con- 
sider which of the two popes he should recognize. It took 
some time to decide the matter, for many of the clergy were at 
variance, but finally aj l the. French prelates favoured Clement, 
as did the King's brothers and the greater part of the UnP 
versity of Paris. King Charles of France was strongly advised 
by all the great clerics of his realm to give his allegiance to 
Clement as the rightful pope. He published a special edict 
throughout his kingdom, by which everyone was to honour 
Clement and obey him as God's viceroy on earth. The King 
of Spain took the same course, as did the Count of Savoy, the 
Lord of Milan and the Queen of Naples. The fact that the 
King of France supported Clement greatly helped his cause, 
for the realm of France is the main bastion of Christianity, of 



religious excellence and faith, because of the noble churches 
and the great prelatures which it has. 

Charles of Bohemia, King of Germany and Holy Roman 
Emperor, was still alive then, living in Prague, where the news 
of these surprising events was brought to him. Although all 
in the German Empire, except the Archbishop of Trier, be- 
lieved wholeheartedly in Urban and would not even hear of 
his rival, the Emperor hid his preferences as long as he lived ^ 
and gave replies, when asked about it, which satisfied the 
prelates and barons of his empire. Nevprt-I^gle ss the churches 
of the Empire followed Urban, as did the whole realm of 
Englandj but the kingdom of Scotland followed OementT 
Count Louis of Flanders did much to injure Clement in the 
regions of Brabant, Hainault, Flanders and Liege, for he was 
a convinced Urbanist who said that that pope had been 
wronged. The Count had great influence in the territories 
near his own, so that their churches and secular lords fol- 
lowed his lead: except in Hainault, where the churches and 
the lords in alliance with them remained neutral, recognizing 
neither pope. For this reason the then Bishop of Cambrai, 
called John, lost all his temporal revenues. 

It was then that Pope Clement despatched the Cardinal of 
Poitiers, a shrewd, worthy and learned cleric, to inform and 
exhort the people of France, Hainault, Flanders and Brabant. 
He had taken part in the first election and was able to explain 
how they had been forced to choose the Archbishop of Bari 
as pope. The King of France and his brothers and the prelates 
received him favourably and Hstened readily to his arguments. 
They felt they were very sound and placed great reliance on 
them. When he had stayed in France for as long as he wanted, 
he went on to Hainault and was well received by Duke Albert. 
So he was in Brabant by the Duke and Duchess, but he 
achieved nothing more there. He thought at first of going to 
Liege, but was so strongly advised not to that he changed his 
mind and went back to Tournay. He intended going to 
Flanders to see the Count, but dropped that plan also on 

I. He died at the end of November 1378, about a month after Clement 
VIl's enthronement. 


BOOK TWO (1376-85) 

receiving word that he was not wanted there, since the Count 
supported Urban and always would do, and in that convic- 
tion would live and die. He therefore left Tournay and went 
to Valenciennes and from there to Cambrai. Here he remained 
for some time, still hoping for better news. 

In this way the Christian kingdoms were at variance over 
the two popes and the churches were also divided. The 
greater number were for Urban, but the richest in terms of 
revenue gave their full allegiance to Clement. Accordingly, 
with the consent of his cardinals, he sent to Avignon to have 
the town and the palace got ready; his intention was to move 
there as soon as possible. Meanwhile, he went to the city of 
Fondi and continued the grant of dispensations. He was fol- 
lowed there by clerics of all ranks who desired to have them. 
In the villages round Rome were large numbers of soldiers 
engaged in harrying the city and the quarter of St Peter's. 
They tormented the inhabitants night and day with skir- 
mishes and attacks. Others in the Castle of Sant'Angelo, out- 
side Rome, also gave the citizens much trouble. But the 
Romans brought German soldiers to their support and these 
were so numerous, when added to the men the citizens could 
muster, that one day they took the quarter of St Peter's by 
force. All the Bretons who could get away withdrew into the 
Castle of Sant'Angelo, but, once there, they were attacked so 
fiercely that they surrendered the castle in return for their lives. 
They came out and retired on Fondi and the lowlands round 
it, while the Romans destroyed the castle and burned the 
whole of St Peter's quarter. When Sir Silvester Bude, w^io was 
out in the country, heard what had happened, he was enraged 
and considered how he could get his revenge on the Romans. 
His spies told him that all the notables of the city were to 
meet in council in the Capitol. Upon this, he formed a column, 
made up of the men-at-arms he had with him, and, riding 
secretly towards Rome along hidden ways, came into the city 
by evening through the Naples Gate. Once the Bretons were 
inside, they made for the Capitol, reaching it at the very mo- 
ment when the councillors had come out of the council- 



chamber and were standing about in the square. Those 
Bretons lowered their lances and spurred their horses and 
crashed in among them, knocking down and killing a vast 
number, including all the chief notables of the town. Seven 
knights banneret and a full two hundred other prominent 
men died there in the square, without counting the many who 
were injured. 

Having achieved their aim, th e,. Bl£tons withdrew. It was 
now late and tney were not pursued, partly because of the 
darkness, partly because there was such confusion in Romg^ 
that no one knew what to do, apart from attending to their 
dead and wounded friends. They spent the night in great 
anxiety, burying the dead and nursing the wounded. In the 
morning, as an act of vengeance, they decided on a very bar- 
barous act. They h unted down the poor clerics who \Y£ 1^ 
staying in Rome and had had nothing to do with the attack^ 
on the Capitol, and killed or wounded over three hundred o f 
them. In particular, Breton clergy who fell into their hands 
were dealt with mercilessly. So great calamities occurred 
round Rome because of the quarrel of the popes, and people 
who were not to blame for it paid the penalty every day. 

Queen Joanna of Naples visits Pope Clement at Fondi and offers 
him the gift of all her domains in fact or in right. She wishes him to 
assign them to some powerful prince, preferably French, who will 
defend them against her enemy, Charles of Sicily. Among these 
domains is the County of Provence. 

Shortly after this. Po pe Clemea Lyeflected that it was not to 
his advantage to stay too long in the neighbourhood of Rome, 
and that Urban and the Romans were working hard to make 
friends with the Neapolitans and Charles of Sicily. He feared 
that the sea and land routes for his intended return to Avignon 
might soon be blocked; but the main consideration which 
decided him to return was the d esire to bestow on the Duke of 
A njou, in the same way as he himself had received therg, th^ 
r ights which the (Dueen of Naples had made over, to hip i. 
He prudently made liis preparations in secret and embarked 
with all his cardinals and their familiars in galleys and ships 
sent from Aragon and Marseille, with the Count of Rocaberti, 


BOOK TWO (1376-85) 

a gallant Aragonese, on board them. They reached Marseille 
safely after a smooth voyage, to the great joy of that whole 
region. From there the Pope travelled to Avignon, an- 
nouncing his arrival to the King of France and his brothers, 
who were very glad to hear of it. The Duke of Anjou, then 
at Toulouse, came to visit him and was given all the titles 
which the Queen of Naples had assigned to the Pope. The 
Duke, who was always interested in great estates and honours, 
accepted them with gratitude for himself and his heirs and 
told the Pope that as soon as he was able he would go to those 
countries outside France in sufficient strength to withstand 
all the enemies of the Queen of Naples. After staying about a 
fortnight with the Pope he returned to his wife the Duchess 
at Toulouse and Pope Clement remained in Avignon. But he 
left his men-at-arms, Sir Silvester Bude, Sir Bernard de la 
Salle and Florimont to combat and harass the Romans. 


The feasants' %eyolt in England (i^Si) 

While these negotiations and discussions were going on,i 
there occurred in England great disasters and uprisings of the 
common people, on account of which the country was almost 
ruined beyond recovery. Never was any land or realm in such 
great danger as England at that time. It was because of the 
abundance and prosperity in which the common people then 
Uved that this rebellion broke out, just as in earher days the 
Jack Goodmans rose in France and committed many excesses, 
by which the noble land of France suffered grave injury. 

These terrible troubles originated in England from a strange 
circumstance and a trivial cause. That it may serve as a lesson 
to all good men and true, I will describe that circumstance and 
its effects as I was informed of them at the time. 

It is the cus tom in England, as in several other countries. 
for t|ie nobles to have stron | p- powers over their men and to 
hold them in serfdom: that is, that by right and custom they 
have to till the lands of the gentry, reap the corn and bring it 
to the big house, put it in the barn, thresh and winnow it; 
mow the hay and carry it to the house, cut logs and bring them 
up, and all such forced tasks ; all this the men must do by way 
of serfage to the masters. In England there is a much greater 
number than elsewhere of such men who are obliged to serve 
the prelates and the nobles. And in the counties of Kent, Essex, 
Sussex and Bedford in particular, there are more than in the 
whole of the rest of England. 

These bad people in the counties just mentioned began to 
rebel because, they said, they were held too much in subjec- 
tion, and when the world began there had been no serfs and 
could not be, unless they had rebelled against their lord, as 
Lucifer did against God ; but they were not of that stature, 
being neither angels nor spirits, but men formed in the image 

I. Between John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, and the Scots, with a 
view to renewing the truce between England and Scotland. 


BOOK TWO (1376-85) 

of their masters, and they were treated as animals. This was a 
thing they could no longer endure, wishing rathe r to be all 
one and the sam e;^ and, if they worked for their masters, tney 
wanted to have wages for it. In the se machinations they had 
I ieen greatly encoura ged origmaliy by a crack-br amed priesF 
of Kent called John l^all, who had b5dh imprisoned several 

times for his reckless words by the Archbishop of Canter- 
bury. This John Ball had the habit on Sundays after mass, 
when everyone was coming out of church, of going to the 
cloisters or the graveyard, assembling the people round him 
and preaching thus : 

' Good people, things cannot go right in England and never 
will, until goods are held in common and there are no more 
villeins and gentlefolk, but we are all one and the same.^ In 
what way are those whom we call lords greater masters than 
ourselves ? How have they deserved it ? Why do they hold us 
in bondage ? If we all spring from a single father and mother, 
Adam and Eve, how can they claim or prove that they are 
lords more than us, except by making us produce and grow 
the wealth which they spend? They are clad in velvet and 
camlet lined with squirrel and ermine, while we go dressed in 
coarse cloth. They have the wines, the spices and the good 
bread : we have the rye, the husks and the straw, and we drink 
water. They have shelter and ease in their fine manors, and 
we have hardship and toil, the wind and the rain in the fields. 
And from us must come, from our labour, the things which 
keep them in luxury. We are called serfs and beaten if we are 
slow in our service to them, yet we have no sovereign lord 
we can complain to, none to hear us and do us justice. Let us 
go to the King - he is young - and show him how we are 
oppressed, and tell him that we want things to be changed, or 
else we will change them ourselves. If we go in good earnest 
and all together, very many people who are called serfs and 
arc held in subjection will follow us to get their freedom. And 

1. Since Froissart uses no word exactly corresponding to 'equal', it has 
been avoided in translation. His phrase is: '. . . niais vonloieut etre. tout un\ 
See also next footnote. 

2. Or 'unified'. Froissart: '' tont-ums\ 



when the King sees and hears us, he will remedy the evil, 
either wilHngly or otherwise.' 

These were the kind of things which John Ball usually 
preached in the villages on Sundays when the congregations 
came out from mass, and many of the common people agreed 
with him. Some, who were up to no good, said: 'He's right! ' 
and out in the fields, or walking together from one village to 
another, or in their homes, they whispered and repeated 
among themselves: 'That's what John Ball says, and he's 

The Archbishop of Canterbury, being informed of all this, 
had John Ball arrested and put in prison, where he kept him 
for two or three months as a punishment. It would have been 
better if he had condemned him to life imprisonment on the 
first occasion,- or had him put to death, than to do what he 
did ; but he had great scruples about putting him to death and 
set him free; and when John Ball was out of prison, he went 
on with his intrigues as before. The things he was doing and 
saying came to the ears nf the 'cofflftion people ot London, 
who were envious of the nobles and the rich. These began 
saying that the country was badly governed and was being 
robbed of its wealth by those who called themselves noble- 
men. So these wicked men in London started to become dis- 
affected and to rebel and they sent word to the people in the 
counties mentioned to come boldly to London with all their 
followers, when they would find the city open and the common 
people on their side. They could then so work on the King 
that there would be no more serfs in England. 

These promises incited the people of Kent, Essex, Sussex, 
Bedford and the neighbouring districts and they set off and 
went towards London. They were a full sixty thousand and 
their chief captain was one Wat Tyler. With him as his com- 
panions were Jack Straw and John Ball. These three were the 
leaders and Wat Tyler was the greatest of them. He was a 
tiler of roofs, and a wicked and nasty fellow he was. 

It was on the Monday before Corpus Christi day, in the year 
1 3 8 1, that those people left their homes to go to London to see 


BOOK TWO (1376-85) 

the King and be freed from serfdom. They reached Canter- 
bury, and with them was John Ball, who was expecting to 
find the Archbishop, but he was in London with the King. 
Wat Tyler and Jack Straw were also at Canterbury. When 
they entered the place, they were cheered by everyone, for the 
whole town was on their side. They consulted together and 
decided that, while they were on the way to London, they 
would send men across the Thames to Essex and Sussex and 
to the counties of Stanfort and Bedford ' to tell all the people 
to come towards London from the other side, so that they 
would surround the city, and the King would be unable to 
bar their way. Their intention was to join forces on Corpus 
Christi or the day after. Those who were at Canterbury went 
into the Cathedral of St Thomas and did much damage 
there. They sacked the Archbishop's chambers and while 
they were plundering and carrying the things outside they said : 
' This Chancellor of England got this furniture on the cheap. 
Soon he will have to render us an account of the revenue of 
England and the huge sums he has levied since the King's 
coronation. '2 

• After sacking the Abbey of St Thomas and the Abbey of 
St Vincent on the Monday, they left the next morning for 
Rochester, with all the common people of Canterbury with 
them. They drew in all the people from the villages they went 
near, and they passed by like a tornado, levelUng and gutting 
the houses of lawyers and judges of the King's and Arch- 
bishop's courts, and showing them no mercy. When they 
reached Rochester, they were greeted with enthusiasm, for 
the people of that town were of their party. They went to the 
castle and took prisoner its captain. Sir John Newton, who 
was also the governor of the town. They told him : ' You must 
come with us to be our leader and captain and do whatever 

1. Froissart's geography has often been the despair of his excgetists. In 
this and certain other passages he places Sussex north of the Thames. 
Read, probably, Suffolk. By Stanfort he usually means Stafford, which is 
undeniably north of the Thames. But if he meant Hertford here, it would 
fit the geographical and historical facts quite well. 

2. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Simon Sudbury, was also Chancellor 
at that date. 



we ask of you.' The knight tried to refuse, giving several 
reasons, but it was no good. They told him: 'Sir John, if 
you will not do as we wish, you are a dead man.' The knight 
saw all those men in furious mood getting ready to kill him. 
He feared death and obeyed them, joining their march against 
his w411. 

The men from the other districts of England, Essex, 
Sussex, Kent, Sfanfort, Bedford, and from the bishopric of 
Norwich as far as Gernemue^ and (King's) Lynn, behaved in 
just the same way. They got the j^ni^|-||-,'^ pnd nnhl(;-.s jntQ their 
power - such as the Lord oi:''Morlais ^^ a _ great baron. _Si t: — 
Stephen Hal es and Si r Stephen de Cosington - an d compelled^^ 

rhpfn to go Wif^ thf^m J net rrMn^\Af-r wV)Cit rlp-tri1ry waS abtOad. 

If their plans had succeeded, they would have destroyed all the 
nobility of England ; and afterwards, in other nations, all the 
common people would have rebelled ; they had been inspired 
and influenced by the people of Ghent and Flanders who 
rebelled against their lord. And in that very year the Parisians 
did the same, making themselves long iron hammers to the 
number of over twenty thousand. But first to continue with 
the English rebels from the counties I have named. 

When that multitude which had halted in Rochester had 
achieved their purpose there, they crossed the river (Medway) 
and came to Dartford, still relentlessly pursuing their course 
of destroying the houses of lawyers and judges whenever 
they passed near them. They cut off the heads of a number of 
men and went on to within about twelve miles of London, 
where they halted on a hill known as Blackheath. And as 
they went they said they stood for the King and the noble 
commons of England. 

When the inhabitants of London heard that they were 
quartered so near to them, they shut the gates of London 
Bridge and posted guards over it. This was done on the orders 
of the Lord Mayor, Sir William Walworth, and a number of 
wealthy citizens who were not of the rebel party, though 

1. Sic Froissart. This may be (Great) Yarmouth. For Stanjort, see note i, 
page 214. 

2. Probably Sir William Morley. 


BOOK TWO (1376-85) 

more than thirty thousand of the small people in London 
were. The men who were at Blackheath now decided to send 
their knight to the King in the Tower to ask him to come and 
talk with them, and to say that all they were doing was in his 
interest : since for many years past the realm of England had 
been misgoverned, both as regarding its prestige and the 
welfare of the common people, and all this thanks to his 
uncles and his clergy, and principally the Archbishop of 
Canterbury, his Chancellor, from whom they demanded an 
account. The knight did not dare to refuse them but went to 
Thames-side opposite the Tower and had himself rowed 
across the water. 

Sir John Newton delivers his message, ^^gg^^g ^^^ ^ing to give him 
an answer to take back, because his children are being held as hostages 
for his return. Kichard promises to speak to the rebels in person on the 
next day. 

On the morning of Corpus Christi day. King Richard heard 
mass in the Tower of London with all his nobles and after- 
wards entered his barge, accompanied by the Earls of Salis- 
bury, Warwick, Oxford and others. They were rowed down- 
stream in order to cross the Thames near Rotherhithe, one of 
the King's manors, where about ten thousand of the Good- 
men, having come down from the hill, were waiting to see 
the King and talk to him. When these saw the royal barge 
coming, they all began to shout and raised such a din that it 
sounded as though all the devils in hell had been let loose. 
They had brought with them their knight, John Newton, and 
if the King had not come and they found that he had tricked 
them, they would have set on him and hacked him to pieces ; 
that was what they had promised him. When the King and his 
nobles saw the frenzied crowds on the bank, the boldest of 
them were frightened and his barons advised the King not to 
land. They began to turn the barge away and upstream 
again. The King called: 'Sirs, what have you to say to me? 
Tell me. I came here to talk to you.' Those who could hear 
him shouted with one voice: 'Come on land, you! It'll be 
easier that way to tell you what we want.' The Earl of Salis- 
bury, speaking for the King, replied: 'Sirs, you are not in a 



it condition for the King to talk to you now.' Nothing was 
idded to this and the King went back, as advised, to the 
lower of London from where he had started. 

When those people saw that they would obtain nothing 
Tiore, they were aflame with fury. They went back to the hill 
^vhere the main body was and reported what had been said to 
:hem and that the King had gone back to the Tower. The 
A'hole mass of them began shouting together : ' To London ! 
straight to London ! ' They started oft and swept down to- 
A'ards the city, ransacking and destroying the houses of 
ibbots, lawyers and court officials, and came to the immedi- 
ite outskirts, which are fine and extensive. They levelled 
leveral fine buildings and, in particular, the King's prisons, 
.vhich are called Marshalseas, setting free all the prisoners 
nside. They committed many outrages in the suburbs and, 
ivhen they reached the bridge, they began to threaten the 
Londoners because they had closed its gates. They said they 
vould set fire to all the suburbs and then take London by 
itorm, burning and destroying it. The common people of 
^ondon, many of whom were on their side, assembled to- 
gether and said: 'Why not let these good people come into 
he town ? They are our own people and they are doing all this 
o help us.' So the gates had to be opened and all those 
"amished men entered the town and rushed into the houses 
vhich had stocks of provisions. Nothing was refused them 
md everyone made haste to welcome them in and set out food 
.nd drink to appease them. After that, their leaders John 
3all, Jack Straw- and Wat Tyler, with more than thirty thou- 
and men, went straight through London to the Palace of the 
Javoy, a very fine building on the Thames as you go towards 
he King's Palace of Westminster, and belonging to the Duke 
)f Lancaster. They quickly got inside and killed the guards, 
nd then sent it up in flames. Having committed this outrage, 
hey went on to the palace of the Hospitallers of Rhodes, 
:nown as St John of Clerkenwell, and burnt it down, house, 
hurch, hospital and everything. Besides this, they went from 
treet to street, killing all the Flemings they found in churches, 
hapels and houses. None was spared. They broke into many 


BOOK TWO (1376-85) 

houses belonging to Lombards ^ and robbed them openly, 
no one daring to resist them. In the town they killed a wealthy 
man called Richard Lyon, whose servant Wat Tyler had 
once been during the wars in France. On one occasion Richard 
Lyon had beaten his servant and Wat Tyler remembered it. 
He led his men to him, had his head cut off in front of him, 
and then had it stuck on a lance and carried through the 
streets. So those wicked men we.n^ rap ^inp; pj ^nnt i n wild 

frpny y ^ rnTr)tr|iffinn- many /^v/-^gc^r r^r> tUnt TUh...J.T | T ilii-nn^ln 

out London. 

Towards evening, they all collected together for the night 
in a square called St Katharine's, just outside the Tower of 
London. They said they would not budge from there until 
they had the King in their power and had got him to grant all 
their demands. They also said that they wanted to have an 
account from the Chancellor of all the sums of money which 
had been raised in the kingdom during the past five years, and 
that unless he could give a good and satisfactory account of 
them, it would be the worse for him. With those intentions, 
after a day spent in doing much harm to the foreigners in 
London, they settled for the night beneath the walls of the 

You can well imagine what a frightening situation it was 
for the King and those with him, with those evil men all 
shouting and yelling outside like devils. In the evening the 
King, with his brothers and the barons round him, had agreed 
to a plan proposed to them by the Mayor of London, Sir 
William Walworth, and other prominent citizens. It was, that 
they should come at midnight, fully armed, down four differ- 
ent streets, and fall on those evil men, the whole sixty thou- 
sand of them, while they were asleep. They would all be drunk 
and could be killed like flies, since not one in twenty of them 
was armed. And it may be said that the loyal and wealthy 
people in London were quite in a position to do this. They had 
secretly assembled their friends in their houses, and their 

I. Lombards and Flemings: two types of foreigner personifying the 
banker and the merchant. 



servants all carried weapons. Thus, Sir Robert Knollys was 
there in his house guarding his treasure with over six score 
fighting men all in readiness, who would have salHed out at 
once if the word had been given. It was the same with Sir 
Perducas d'Albret, who was in London at that time. They 
could have mustered between seven and eight thousand men, 
all fully armed. But none of this was done, for fear of the rest 
of the common people in London. The wiser heads, such as 
the Earl of Salisbury, told the King : ' Sire, if you can appease 
them by fair words, that would be the better course. Promise 
them everything they are asking. If we begin something that 
we are unable to finish, there will be no stopping things before 
we and our heirs are destroyed and all England is laid in 

This advice was followed and the Mayor was given new 
orders to remain inactive and do nothing at all which might 
cause trouble. He obeyed, as was his duty. Now, together 
with the Mayor, the City of London has twelve aldermen. 
Nine were with him and the King, as their actions showed, 
and three were on the side of those evil men, as it became 
apparent later. They paid very dearly for it. 

On the Friday morning, the crow^ds in St Katharine's 
Square beneath the Tower bej p ;an to stir and raise a great out- 
cry, saymg that if the Kinp^ would not come and speak to 
them, they would take the Tower by force and kill everyone 
inside. For fear of these boasts and threats, the King decided 
to do as they asked and sent word that they were all to go out 
of London to a fine open space which is called Mile End, 
situated in the middle of a pleasant meadow, where the people 
go for recreation in summer. There the King would grant 
them all they were demanding or might demand. The Mayor 
of London announced this to them and he had it cried, in 
the King's name, that whoever wanted to talk to the King 
should go to the place just mentioned, in the certainty that 
the King would be there. Then those people, the commons of 
the villages, began to move off in that direction, but all did 
not leave, nor were they all of the same sort. There were 


BOOK TWO (1376-85) 

many whose only object was to destroy the nobles and seize 
their wealth and to loot and ransack London. That was the 
main reason why they had begun all this. They quickly showed 
their hand, for no sooner had the gate of the Tower been 
opened and the King had come out with the Earls of Salis- 
bury, Warwick and Oxford, Sir Robert of Namur, the Lord of 
Vertaing, the Lord of Gommegnies and several others, than 
Wat Tyler, Jack Straw and John Ball entered the castle by 
force with some four hundred men, and went from room to 
room until they found the Archbishop Simon of Canterbury. 
That w^ise and worthy man. Chancellor of England, who had 
just celebrated divine service and said mass before the King, 
was seized by those scoundrels and instantly beheaded. So 
were the Grand Prior of the Hospital of St John,' and a 
Franciscan friar who was a physician attached to the Duke of 
Lancaster, which was the reason why he was killed, to his 
master's subsequent anger, and a serjeant-at-arms of the King, 
called John Legge. Their four heads were placed on long 
lances and carried before the crowd through the streets. When 
they had sported with them long enough, they set them up on 
London Bridge, as though they had been traitors to the King 
and the realm. Those scoundrels also entered the room of the 
Princess of Wales and tore her bed to pieces, so terrifying her 
that she fainted. Her menservants and maids carried her down 
in their arms to the river-gate and put her in a small boat 
which took her along the river to the Tower Royal, where she 
was placed in a house known as the Queen's Wardrobe. She 
remained there for a day and night, like a half-dead w^oman, until 
she was comforted by her son the King, as I will describe later. 

As the King was going towards Mile End outside London, 
his two brothers, the Earl of Kent and Sir John Holland, left 
him for fear of death, and with them also went the Lord of 
Gommegnies. They dare not show themselves to the populace 
at Mile End. When the King arrived there, accompanied by 
the other nobles named above, he saw over sixty thousand 
men from different districts and villages in the English 

I. Sir Robert Hales, Treasurer of England. 



counties. He rode right in among them and said very amiably: 
' Good people, I am your lord and king. What are you asking 
for ? What do you want to say to me ? ' Those who were near 
enough to hear him replied: *We want you to make us free 
for ever and ever, we and our heirs and our lands, so that we 
shall never again be called serfs or bondmen.' The King 
answered: 'That I grant you. Now go back home in your 
village-companies as you came here, but leave two or three 
men behind to represent each village. I will have letters 
written at once and sealed with my Great Seal for them to 
take back with them, granting you all that you ask freely, 
faithfully and absolutely. And in order to reassure you still 
more, I will order my banners to be sent to you in each baili- 
wick, castlewick and borough. You will find no hitch in any 
of this, for I will never go back on my word.' 

These words did much to calm those humble people, that is, 
the raw, simple, good folk who had flocked there without 
really knowing what they wanted, and they shouted : ' Hurrah ! 
That's all we ask for ! ' So these people were placated and be- 
gan to go back to London. The King said another thing 
which pleased them greatly: 'Between you, good men of 
Kent, you shall have one of my banners, and you of Essex 
one, and you of Sussex another, and those of Bedford yet 
another, and those of Cambridge one, those of Gernemm one, 
those of Stafford one, and those of Lynn one. I pardon you 
everything you have done until now, provided that you follow 
my banners and go back to your own places in the way I told 
you.' All of them answered: 'Yes ! ' 

These people went back to London, while the King 
ordered over thirty clerks to write letters of authority on that 
same Friday, to be sealed and delivered to them. Those ^^Yb*^ - 
had the letters left to go back to t heir cou nties , but the main 
s ource of trouble remained beJimd - Wat Tyler, Jack Straw 
and Joh n V^c\\\ Thpv said that, although some people were 
satisfied, they would not leave like that, and more than thirty 
thousand supported them. So they staved in London and did 
not press very hard to have the King's letters of authority, 
but were chiefly intent on spreading such unrest through the 


BOOK TWO (1576-85) 

town that the rich and noble would be killed and their houses 
looted. This was just what the citizens of London had feared 
and was the reason why they had privately assembled their 
friends and servants inside their houses, each according to his 

When the small people who felt satisfied had received their 
letters and had started back for their own towns, King 
Richard went to the Queen's Wardrobe, where his mother the 
Princess had taken refuge in a state of terror. He comforted 
her, as he well knew how to do, and stayed with her for the 
whole of that night. 

I would like to tell you also of an incident caused by those 
evil men outside the city of Norwich, while they were being 
led by a captain they had, called Geoffrey Litster.' 

On that same day of Corpus Christi, when those other 
wicked people entered London, burned the Palace of the 
Savoy and the church and house of the Hospitallers of St 
John, broke open the King's prison of Newgate and set free 
all the prisoners, and committed all the other excesses I have 
recorded, the men of the following districts : Stanfort^ Lynn, 
Cambridge, Bedford and Gernemue had risen and come to- 
gether. They moved towards London to join their comrades, 
for that was part of their plan, and they had as their leader 
that very bad character, Litster. As they went, they made 
everyone come with them, so that not a single able-bodied 
man remained behind. They halted outside Norwich, for a 
reason which you shall hear. 

The captain of that town was a knight called Sir Robert 
Salle. He was not of gentle birth, but in appearance, reputa- 
tion and fact he was a brave and experienced fighting-man. 
King Edward had knighted him for his sterling worth and 
physically he was the best-built and strongest man in all 
England. Litster and his followers thought that they would 
take this knight with them and make him their commander, in 
order that they should become both more feared and more 

I. Froissart has: Gnillattme (William) L,istier^ qui etait de Stanfort 
(? Suffolk), but there is little doubt that Geoffrey Litster is meant. 



popular. They sent a message asking him to come out and 
speak with them, or else they would storm the city and burn 
it. The knight considered that it would be better to comply 
than risk such a disaster, so he took his horse and rode alone 
out of the town to where they were waiting. They greeted 
him with all respect and asked him^ to get off his horse to talk 
with them. He did so, which was an act of folly. As soon as he 
was on the ground, they surrounded him and began pleading . 
with him frankly but gently: ' Robert, you are ^jjc ni ght and 
you have a great reputa tion round jierf n^ ^ hrflvf and worthy 
man. Ot course you are one, but we know very well that you 
are not a gentleman, but the son of a common mason, of 
the same sort as us. C ome with us and you shall be our master 
and we will make you so great a lord that the fourth part of 
England will be under your rule.' 

When the knight heard this, he was astonished and greatly 
offended, for he would never have struck such a bargain. 
Glaring at them fiercely, he said : ' Away from me, you wicked - 
people, false and evil traitors th at you are, do you think I 
would abandon my natural lord for dung like you, and dis- 
honour myself utterly ? I would rather see you all hanged, as 
you will be, for that's the only end you deserve.' 

With these words he tried to get back on his horse, but his 
foot slipped in the stirrup and the horse took fright. They 
began to yell at him and shout : ' Put him to death 1 ' Hearing 
this, he let go of his horse, drew a long Bordeaux sword 
which he carried, and began cutting and thrusting all around 
him, a lovely sight to see. Few dared to come near him, and of 
those who did he cut off a foot or a head or an arm or a leg 
with every stroke he made. Even the boldest of them grew 
afraid of him. On that spot Sir Robert gave a marvellous dis- 
play of swordsmanship. But those wicked men were more than 
sixty thousand strong and they hurled and flung and shot 
their missiles at him until his armour was pierced through. To 
tell the truth, even if he had been a man of iron or steel, he 
could still not have got out alive, but first he killed a dozen of 
them stone dead, apart from those he wounded. Finally, he 
was brought down and they cut off his arms and legs and 


BOOK TWO (1576-85) 

carved up his body piece by piece. So died Sir Robert Salle; 
it was a pitiful end, and later, when the news was known, all 
knights and squires in England were deeply angered by it. 

On the Saturday morning the King left the Queen's Ward- 
robe in the Tower Royal and went to Westminster to hear 
mass in the abbey, together with all his nobles. In a small 
chapel in the abbey there is an image of Our Lady which has 
great virtues and performs miracles and in which the Kings of 
England have always placed great faith. The King said his 
prayers before the statue, dedicating himself to it, then got on 
horseback with all the barons who were round him. It was 
somewhere about nine in the morning. He started with his 
followers along the road which leads into London, but when 
he had gone a little way, he branched off to the left to pass 
outside it. The truth was that no one knew where he intended 
to go when he took this road leading round London. 

On the morning of the same day all the bad men, led by Wat 
T yler, Jack St;-f^w ^pc\ John Rall^ h^H assembled together, 
and gone to hold a ronfabnlation at Smithfield, where the 
horse-market is held on Fridays. There were over twenty 
thousand of them, all of one kind. Many more were still in 
the town breakfasting in the taverns and drinking Languedoc 
wine and Malmsey in the Lombards' houses, free of all 
charge. Anyone able to provide them with food and drink 
was only too happy to do so. The crowds assembled at Smith- 
field had with them the royal banners given them on the 
previous day and the scoundrels were contemplating running 
amok through London and looting and plundering. The 
leaders said: 'We have achieved nothing yet. The rights the 
King has granted us won't bring us in much. Now let's all 
decide together: let's sack this rich and mighty town of 
London before the men of Essex, Sussex, Cambridge, Bed- 
ford and the other far-off counties of Arundel, Warwick, 
Reading, Berkshire, Oxford, Guildford, Coventry, Lynn, 
Stafford, Gernetnue^ Lincoln, York and Durham come - for 
they all will come. We know that Bakier^ and Litster will 
I . Sic Froissart. Perhaps Baker. 


bring them. But if we are masters of London and of the gold 
and silver and riches we find in it - for they are there all right - 
we shall have the first pick and we shall never regret it. But if 
we just leave them, the men who are coming, we tell you, will 
get them instead.' 

They were all agreeing to this plan when suddenly the King 
appeared, accompanied by perhaps sixty horsemen. He had 
not been thinking about them, but had been intending to go 
on and leave London behind. When he reached the Abbey of 
St Bartholomew which stands there, he stopped and looked at 
the great crowd and said that he would not go on without 
hearing what they wanted. If they were discontented, he 
would placate them. The nobles who were with him stopped 
when he did, as they must. When Wat Tyler saw this, he said 
to his men: 'Here's the King, I'm going to talk to him. Don't 
budge from here unless I give you the signal, but if I make this 
sign (he showed them one), move forward and kill the lot. 
Except the King, don't touch the King. He's young, we will 
make him do as we want, we can take him with us anywhere 
in England and we shall be the lords of the realm. No doubt of 
that.' There was a tailor there called John Tickle, who had 
delivered sixty doublets for some of those scoundrels to wear, 
and Tyler was wearing one himself. Tickle said to him : ' Hi, 
sir, who's going to pay for my doublets ? I want at least thirty 
marks.' 'Be easy now,' said Tyler. 'You'll be paid in full by 
tomorrow. Trust me, I'm a good enough guarantee.' 

With that, he stuck his spurs into a horse he had mounted, 
left his companions and went straight up to the King, going 
so near that his horse's tail was brushing the head of the 
King's horse. The first words he said to the King were: 
'Well, King, you see all those men over there?' 'Yes,' said 
the King. 'Why do you ask?' 'Because they are all under my 
command. They've sworn their sacred oath to do anything 
I tell them.' 'Good,' said the King, 'I see nothing wrong in 
that.' 'So,' said Tyler, who only wanted a quarrel, 'do you 
think, King, that these men here, and as many again in Lon- 
don, all under my command, are going to leave you without 
getting their letters? No, we're going to take them with us.' 


BOOK TWO (1376-85) 

*It's all in hand,' said the King. 'They have to be drawn up 
separately and given out one after another. Simply go back to 
your men, my friend, and get them to withdraw from London 
quietly, and remember what your interests are. It is our inten- 
tion that each of you, by villages and boroughs, should have 
your letter as agreed.' 

On hearing this, Wat Tyler looked across at one of the 
King's squires, who was behind the King and bore his sword. 
He was a man whom Tyler hated, because they had had words 
in the past and the squire had abused him. *Well,' said Tyler, 
*so you are here? Give me your dagger.' 'Never,' said the 
squire. * Why should I ? ' The King looked at his servant and 
said: 'Give it him.' Very unwillingly the squire did so. 
When Tyler had it, he began toying with it and then turned 
again to the squire and said: 'Give me that sword.' 'Never,' 
said the squire, 'it's the King's sword. It's not for such as 
you, you're only a boor. If you and I were alone in this 
place, you would never have asked me that - not for a heap 
of gold as high as that church of St Paul's over there.' 'By 
God,' said Tyler, 'I'll have your head, if I never touch food 

Just then the Lord Mayor of London arrived on horseback 
with a dozen others, all fully armed beneath their robes, and 
broke through the crowd. He saw how Tyler was behaving 
and said to him in the sort of language he understood : ' Fel- 
low, how dare you say such things in the King's presence? 
You're getting above yourself.' The King lost his temper and 
said to the Mayor: 'Lay hands on him. Mayor.' Meanwhile 
Tyler was answering: 'I can say and do what I like. What's it 
to do with you?' 'So, you stinking boor,' said the Mayor, 
who had once been a King's Advocate, ' you talk like that in 
the presence of the King, my natural lord ? I'll be hanged if 
you don't pay for it.' 

With that he drew a great sword he was wearing and struck. 
He gave Tyler such a blow on the head that he laid him flat 
under his horse's feet. No sooner was he down than he was 
entirely surrounded, so as to hide him from the crowds who 
were there, who called themselves his men. One of the King's 



squires called John Standish dismounted and thrust his sword 
into Tyler's belly so that he died. 

Those crowds of evil men soon realized that their leader was 
dead. They began to mutter: * They've killed our captain. 
Come on, we'll slay the lot ! ' They drew themselves up in the 
square in a kind of battle-order, each holding before him the 
bow which he carried. Then the King did an extraordinarily 
rash thing, but it ended well. As soon as Tyler was dispatched, 
he left his men, saying: 'Stay here, no one is to follow me,' 
and went alone towards those half-crazed people, to whom he 
said : * Sirs, what more do you want ? You have no other captain 
but me. I am your king, behave peaceably.' On hearing this, 
the majority of them were ashamed and began to break up. 
They were the peace-loving ones. But the bad ones did not dis- 
band ; instead they formed up for battle and showed that they 
meant business. The King rode back to his men and asked 
what should be done next. He was advised to go on towards 
the country, since it was no use trying to run away. The 
Mayor said: 'That is the best thing for us to do, for I imagine 
that we shall soon receive reinforcements from London, from 
the loyal men on our side who are waiting armed in their 
houses with their friends.' 

While all this was going on, a rumour spread through Lon- 
don that the King was being killed. Because of it, loyal men of 
all conditions left their houses armed and equipped and made 
for Smithfield and the fields nearby, where the King now was. 
Soon they were some seven or eight thousand strong. Among 
the first to arrive were Sir Robert Knollys and Sir Perducas 
d'Albret, accompanied by a strong force of men, and nine of 
the London aldermen with over six hundred men-at-arms, and 
also an influential London citizen called Nicholas Brembre, 
who received an allowance from the King, and now came with 
a powerful company of men-at-arms. As they arrived they all 
dismounted and drew up in battle formation near the King, 
on one side. Opposite were all those evil men, drawn up also, 
showing every sign of wanting a fight, and they had the King's 
banners with them. There and then the King created three 
new knights. One was William Walworth, Mayor of London, 


BOOK TWO (1376-85) 

the second John Standi sh and the third Nicholas Brembre. 
Tiie leaders conferred together, saying: 'What shall we do? 
There are our enemies who would gladly have killed us if 
they thought they had the advantage.' Sir Robert Knollys 
argued frankly that they should go and fight them and kill 
them all, but the King refused to agree, saying that he would 
not have that done. 'But,' said the King, 'I want to have my 
banners back. We will see how they behave when we ask for 
them. In any case, by peaceful means or not, I want them 
back.' * You're right,' said the Earl of Salisbury. So the three 
new knights were sent over to get them. They made signs to 
the villeins not to shoot, since they had something to discuss. 
When they were near enough for their voices to be heard, 
they said : * Now listen, the King commands you to give back 
his banners, and we hope that he will have mercy on you.' 
The banners were handed over at once and taken back to the 
King. Any of the villeins who had obtained royal letters were 
also ordered in the King's name to give them up, on pain of 
death. Some did so, but not all. The King had them taken and 
torn up in front of them. It may be said that as soon as the 
royal banners had been removed, those bad men became just a 
mob. Most of them threw down their bows and they broke 
formation and started back for London. Sir Robert Knollys 
was more than angry that they had not been attacked and all 
killed. But the King would not hear of it, saying that he would 
take full vengeance later, as he did. 

So those crazy men departed and split up, some going one 
way, some another. The King, with the nobles and their com- 
panies, went back in good order into London, to be received 
with joy. The first thing the King did was to visit his lady 
mother the Princess, who was still in the Tower Royal. 
When she saw her son, she was overjoyed and said: *Ah, my 
son, how anxious I have been today on your account ! ' ' Yes, 
my lady,' the King answered, *I know you have. But now take 
comfort and praise God, for it is a time to praise him. Today I 
have recovered my inheritance, the realm of England which I 
had lost.' 

The King remained with his mother for the whole day and 



the lords and nobles went back peaceably to their houses. A 
royal proclamation was drawn up and cried from street to 
street, ordering all persons who were not natives of London 
or had lived there for less than a year to leave at once. If they 
were still found there at sunrise on the Sunday, they would be 
counted as traitors to the King and would lose their heads. 
When this order became known, none dared to disobey it. 
Everyone left in haste on that same Saturday and started back 
for their own districts. Tohn Ball and Jack Straw were found 
hi ding in an old ruined building, where they had hoped to 
escape the search. But they did not; their own people gave 
them away. I'he King and the nobles were delighted by their 
capture, for then their heads were cut off, and Tyler's too, 
although he was dead already, and posted up on London 
Bridge in place of those of the worthy men whom they had 
beheaded on the Thursday. News of this quickly spread around 
London. All the people from the distant counties who had 
flocked there at the summons of those wicked men set off 
hurriedly for their own places, and never dared to come back 

When these troubles were over and Thomas Baquier^ had 
been executed at St Albans, Litster at Stafort^'^ and Tyler, 
John Ball and Jack Straw and several others in London, the 
King decided to make a t r\\\x f^f his l^tr|gH om, going round all 
the bailiwicks, boroughs, castlewicks and boundaries of 
Englan d tn pnnish fh^ evil- Hoers and take back the letters 
which he had been forced to grant to various places, and to 
restore the kingdom to proper order. 

He therefore secretly summoned a number of men-at-arms 
to come together on a certain day. They amounted to at least 
five hundred lances and an equal number of archers. When 
they were ready, the King set out from London, accompanied 
only by his household, and took the road to Kent, where the 

1. Sic Froissart. Baker (?). 

2. Sic Froissart. Possibly Suffolk was intended here, since Litster's 
activities were in East Anglia. More accurately, it seems established that 
Litster was captured and executed at North Walsham, fifteen miles from 


BOOK TWO (1376-85) 

first rising of those evil men had occurred. The men-at-arms 
followed him on the flanks and did not ride with him. He 
entered the county and came to Ospringe. The mayor and all 
the men in the town were called together, and when they were 
assembled the King caused one of his counsellors to expound 
to them how it was that they had been disloyal to him and 
had come very near to bringing all England to ruin and 
disaster. He then said that, since the King knew that this thing 
had been the work of a few, not of all, and it was better that 
the few should suffer than the many, he demanded that they 
should point out the guilty to him, on pain of incurring his 
anger for ever after and being branded as traitors to their 
king. When the people heard this demand and the innocent 
saw that they could purge themselves of the crime by naming 
the guilty, they looked at one another and said : * Sire, there is 
the man w^ho was the first to cause trouble in this town.' The 
man was immediately seized and hanged, and altogether seven 
were hanged at Ospringe. The letters which had been granted 
them were called for. They were brought and handed to the 
legal officers, who tore them up and scattered them in the 
presence of the whole population, and then said: 'We com- 
mand all you who are here assembled, in the King's name and 
on pain of death, to return peaceably each to his own home, 
and nevermore to rise in revolt against the King and his 
ministers. That offence, by the punishment which has been 
inflicted, is now remitted you.' The y aJl answered y^ith on e 
vnirp-^ God sa ve the King and his n oble counsellor s ! ' 

After Usprmge, the Kmg proceeded in the same way at 
Canterbury and Sandwich, at Gerner?2ue^ Orwell and elsewhere, 
in all parts of England where his people had rebelled. O v<pr 
£^en hundred were put to death by beheadingand hanging. 


oAffairs of J^landers {1)81-2) 

At the time when these events were taking place in England, 
the struggle in Flanders continued as before, the Count ^ 
against the people of Ghent, and they against the Count. 
You know how Philip van Artevelde had risen to power in 
Ghent, being elected captain-general on the initiative of 
Pierre du Bois, who advised him, when he took office, to 
be stern and ruthless, so as to make himself feared. Philip 
adopted this policy, for he had not been governing long when 
he caused twelve men to be beheaded. According to some, it 
was because they had played a leading part in his father's ^ 
death, and he was taking vengeance. He began to rule with 
great energy and made himself feared, but also loved, by 
many people, especially by the soldiers belonging to the Free 
Companies. To line the pockets of these and keep in their 
good books, he refused nothing. Everything was abandoned 
to them. 

I may be asked how the people of Ghent were able to sus- 
tain a war. The answer is this, according to what I heard 
from them later. They were so united that, when it was 
necessary, they all dipped into their purses, the rich taxing 
themselves according to their means and sparing the poor, 
and this solidarity gave them lasting strength. Also Ghent, 
all things considered, is among the strongest towns in the 
world, because neither Brabant, Hainault, Holland nor Zea- 
land desire to make war on it. But if those four countries 
should ever be hostile to it, with Flanders, it would be en- 
circled, helpless and doomed to starvation. However, those 
countries never did combine against it, for which reason it 
could make war more effectively and hold out longer. 

1. Louis de Male, whose father had been killed at Crecy and who had 
avoided marrying Edward Ill's daughter during the siege of Calais. 

2. James van Artevelde, Captain-general of Ghent, murdered there in 



BOOK TWO (1376-85) 

In the early days of Philip van Artevelde's rule, the Master 
of the Weavers was accused of treason. He was arrested and 
imprisoned and his house was searched to discover if the 
charge against him was true. Newly prepared saltpetre' was 
found there, which he had failed to produce for use during 
the whole year they had been under siege. The Master was 
beheaded and drawn through the town by the shoulders as a 
traitor, to give an example to the others. 

The Count of Flanders lays siege a second time to his defiant sub- 
jects in Ghent ^ hut is still unsuccessful and withdraws to Bruges. 
He tries to bring them to heel bj cutting off the supplies which would 
normally reach them from other places. Although the blockade is not 
complete, food becomes very scarce in Ghent, On the Duchess of 
Brabanfs initiative a reconciliation is attempted, but negotiations 
break down because of the intolerably hard conditions insisted on by 
the Count, On his return from the abortive talks to the now desperate 
situation in Ghent, Philip van Artevelde addresses the townspeople : 

' Good people of Ghent, the only course I can see before us 
is to make a definite decision quickly. You know how short 
of food we are and that there are thirty thousand mouths in 
this town which have not eaten bread for the past fortnight. 
We must do one of three things. The first is to shut ourselves 
up in this town, blocking up all the gates, make our sincere 
confessions and go into the churches and chapels, there to die 
shriven and repentant, like martyrs on whom none will take 
pity. In that event, God will have mercy on our souls and, 
wherever the news is known, it will be said that we died 
like brave and faithful people. Secondly, we can all of us go, 
men, women and children, with halters round our necks, bare- 
foot and bare-headed, and throw ourselves on the mercy of 
the Count of Flanders. His heart is surely not so hard that, 
seeing us in that state, he will not grow kinder and take pity 
on his humble people. If it will appease his anger, I will be 
the first to offer him my head. I am ready to die for the sake of 
the people of Ghent. Or thirdly, we will pick five or six thou- 
sand of the fittest and best-armed men in this town and will go 
after him at Bruges and fight him. If we are killed in that 
I. Used in making gunpowder. 


venture, it will be an honourable death. God will have pity- 
on us and men also. They will say that we have fought for 
our cause bravely and loyally to the end. If God is good to us 
in the battle, as in times of old, as our reverend fathers tell 
us, he strengthened the hand of Judith who killed Holo- 
phernes, leader and master of Nebuchadnezzar's knights - 
whereby the Assyrians were defeated - we shall be the most 
highly honoured of any people since the Romans. Now con- 
sider which of these three things you wish to do. It must be 
one or the other.' 

The third course is chosen. The men are to leave on the next day. 

On that understanding, all the townspeople who had been 
at this meeting in the place of the Friday markets, dispersed 
and went home to prepare for what they had to do. They kept 
their town shut so tight on that Wednesday that not a soul 
came in or out until the Thursday morning, when those who 
were to leave were ready. There were about five thousand of 
them and no more. They loaded about two hundred wagons 
with cannon and artillery and seven only with provisions, five 
with baked bread and two with wine. All of this was contained 
in two casks, leaving none in the town. That shows how near 
they were to the end of their resources. When they left there 
were moving scenes between those who were going and those 
who stayed behind. The latter said: 'Dear friends, you see 
what you are leaving behind you. You have nothing to hope 
for if you return without victory. You know there is nothing 
more here. And if the news comes that you are dead or de- 
feated, we shall immediately set fire to the town and destroy 
ourselves like desperate men.' 

Those who were going replied, to comfort them : *A11 you 
have said is right and true. Pray to God for us. We have hopes 
that He will help us, and you also before we meet again.' 

So the five thousand left Ghent with their meagre suppHes 
and camped for that Thursday night about five miles from the 
town. They did not touch their provisions, but managed with 
what they could get from the country. They marched for the 
whole of Friday and again used none of their own food. 
Their foragers found something in the country which did 


BOOK TWO (1376-85) 

them for that day. By evening they were a few miles from 
Bruges, so they halted and chose a place to await their enemy. 
There was a big pond ahead of them and they used this to 
protect them on one side and placed their baggage-carts on the 
other. There they spent the night. 

The Saturday dawned fine and clear. It was St Helena's day, 
the third of May. That is the very day of the festival and pro- 
cession at Bruges, and for that reason there were more people 
in the town than at any other time in the year. The word 
quickly spread in Bruges: 'Do you know what? The Ghent 
men have come for our procession!' There was a great stir 
in the town, with people going from street to street and say- 
ing: 'What are we waiting for? Why don't we go and fight 
them ? ' When the Count of Flanders heard of it in his palace, 
he was astonished and said: 'The crazy, impudent people! 
May the devil fake them now! Not one shall escape of the 
whole lot of them. This is going to be the end of this war.' 

He then went to mass, and soon knights from Flanders, 
Hainault and Artois who were in his service came flocking in 
to inquire what he wanted to do. He showed his pleasure at 
seeing them and said: 'We're going to fight those wicked 
men. Yet they are brave,' he added. 'They would rather die 
by the sword than from hunger.' 

On that Saturday morning, Philip van Artevelde gave orders 
for everyone to turn devoutly towards God and for mass to 
be sung in several different places, for they had some friars 
among them. Each man was to confess and say his prayers 
sincerely, putting himself in a right frame of mind to receive 
God's grace and compassion. All this was done. Mass was 
celebrated in seven different parts of the army, and with each 
mass there was a sermon, which lasted for over an hour and a 
half. They were told by the clergy, Franciscan friars and 
others, that they were like the people of Israel, who were long 
held in subjection by Pharaoh; until, by God's grace, they 
were delivered and led towards the Promised Land by Moses 
and Aaron, and Pharaoh and the Egyptians were slain and 
destroyed. ' In like manner,' said these friars in their sermons, 



*you are held in servitude by your lord, the Count of Flanders, 
and by your neighbours of Bruges, before whose town you 
have halted. Do not doubt that they will attack you. They are 
determined men, who count your strength for little. But pay 
no heed to that. God, who is all-seeing and all-powerful, will 
uphold you. And give no thought to what you have left be- 
hind you, for you know, if you are defeated, that there is no 
second chance. Sell your lives dearly and courageously and 
die, if you must, with honour. Do not be dismayed if a great 
multitude comes out from Bruges against you, for victory 
goes not to the greatest number, but there where God be- 
stows it, according to His grace. There are many examples, 
such as that of the Maccabeans and the Romans, of a humble 
people of goodwill, trusting in the grace of Our Lord, striking 
down a mighty people who boasted in their numbers. In this 
struggle, your cause is just and right for many reasons. Take 
heart and courage from that.' 

With such arguments and many others the preaching friars 
exhorted the men of Ghent on that Saturday morning, so 
comforting them greatly. Three-quarters of the army took 
communion and all behaved most devoutly and showed 
themselves to be filled with the fear of God. 

They are next exhorted bj Philip van Artevelde, who repeats that 
they have been forced into this situation and must fight to the death 
since they have nothing more to lose. 

At the end of his address he said : ' Sirs, you see in front of 
you the whole of your provisions. Please share them out fairly 
between you, as between brothers, with no disputes. When 
they are finished, you will have to conquer more if you w^ant to 

Upon this, they formed up very quietly. The wagons were 
unloaded and the sacks of bread distributed by companies 
and the two casks of wine up-ended. They breakfasted reason- 
ably well on the bread and wine, each having enough to satisfy 
him for the time. Afterwards, they felt strong and in good 
heart, more robust and active than they had been before. 
When the breakfast, which they made their dinner, was over, 
they formed up for battle, all squatting down behind their 


BOOK TWO (1376-85) 

ribalds.^ These are high wheelbarrows, banded with iron, 
with long iron spikes sticking out from the front, which 
they are accustomed to wheel along with them. On this 
occasion they grouped them in front of their ranks and hedged 
themselves in with them. 

The Count comes out of Bruges with his mounted men-at-arms^ 
preceded by a much larger body of townspeople on foot. But it is now 
near evening and he is advised to put off fighting until the morrow. 

The Count agreed and would have liked to follow this 
course. But the men of Bruges in their pride were so eager to 
fight that they would not wait. They thought that they would 
soon have defeated them and be going back to their town. In 
spite of the orders of the men-at-arms, of whom the Count 
had a large number, more than eight hundred lances, the 
Bruges townsmen went forward and began to fire cannons. 
Then the Ghent men came together and closed their ranks and 
fired off over three hundred cannons at once. They wheeled 
round the pond, so that the men of Bruges had the sun in 
their eyes, to their great disadvantage, and charged at them, 
shouting * Ghent!' 

No sooner did the men of Bruges hear these battle-cries and 
the sound of the cannons, and see the enemy coming straight 
at them in a determined way, than they broke like cowards, 
puffed up with nothing but false courage. They allowed the 
Ghent men to drive into them without resistance, threw down 
their pikes and turned to run. 

The men of Ghent in their close, solid ranks, soon saw that 
the enemy were beaten and began striking them down in 
front of them, killing and going straight ahead, never once 
breaking formation but marching on at a steady pace. They 
kept up their cry of * Ghent ! Ghent ! ' and said to each other : 
* Forward I Forward! Follow up closely. They're beaten and 
running. We'll get into Bruges with them. God has shown us 
great mercies on this day.' . . . 

When the Count of Flanders and the men-at-arms saw the 
poor showing of the townspeople and the way they had de- 

I. The 'ribald' was an early form of anti-personnel gun, firing through 
several small tubes or barrels. Froissart's description helps to define it. 



feated themselves, with no apparent hope of recovery, they 
also were seized by panic and began to break up and flee in 
different directions. No doubt if they had seen any sign of 
resistance or of a rally among the men of Bruges, they might 
well have gone into action and harassed the Ghent men. They 
might even have turned the day. But it was not so, and they 
fled pell-mell towards Bruges. The son did not wait for his 
father, or the father for his son. Many indeed decided not to 
go towards Bruges, because the crush was so great in the 
fields and on the road that it was horrible to see it and to hear 
the cries and groans of the wounded, with the Ghent men on 
the heels of the Bruges men shouting ' Ghent ! Ghent ! ' and 
slaughtering and striding on without stopping. 

The Count escapes into Bruges ahead of the rout and goes to his 
palace. He gives orders for the gate to be guarded and for the remaining 
men in the town to assemble in the market-place. 

While the Count was in his palace and was sending the 
clerks of the guild-masters from street to street to tell every 
man to go to the market-place to defend the town, the men of 
Ghent, treading on their enemies' heels, came rapidly on and 
followed them straight inside. The first place they went to, 
without turning to left or right, was the market, and there 
they halted and drew up. One of the Count's knights, Sir 
Robert Le Marescal, had been sent, while the Count was still 
issuing his orders, to see how they were doing at the gate. 
He found it split off its hinges and the Ghent men in posses- 
sion of it. He found some Bruges men nearby, who said to 
him: 'Robert, Robert, go back and get away if you can. 
The men of Ghent are masters of the town.' He went back as 
quickly as he could to the Count, who was just leaving his 
palace for the market-place, riding his horse and preceded by a 
large number of torches. The knight made his report, but the 
Count, bent on winning everything back, nevertheless made 
for the market. As he was about to enter it among a mass of 
torches, shouting his battle-cry of: ' Flanders ! The Lion ! The 
Count ! ' the men at his horse's head and in front of him looked 
and saw that the whole place was filled with Ghent men. 'In 
God's name, sir,' they said, ' turn back. If you go on you will 


BOOK TWO (1376-85) 

be killed, or captured at the best. Your enemies are all drawn 
up in the market-place waiting for you.' It was true. The men 
of Ghent were saying already as they saw the stream of 
torches coming out from the side-street : ' Here's our lord and 
master, here's the Count, he's coming right into our arms.' 
Philip van Artevelde had had the word passed along the ranks : 
'If the Count attacks us, be sure that no one harms him. We 
will take him back to Ghent alive and well, and be able to 
make the peace that suits us best.' . . . 

[Other men of the Count's insisted]: 'If you enter the 
market-place you will be killed. You are in great danger any 
way. There are plenty of other men from Ghent going from 
street to street searching for their enemies, and there are 
Bruges men with them taking them into the houses to find the 
ones they want to get. It won't be easy for you to escape. 
All the gates are held by the Ghent men, and you can't go 
back to your palace. A big troop of Ghent men is on the 
way to it.' 

It was a hard blow to the Count to hear this. He began to 
grow frightened and to realize the danger he was in. He had all 
the torches put out and said to the men with him : ' I see there 
is no hope of winning back the town. I dismiss you all. Find 
your own ways to safety if you can.' His orders were carried 
out. The torches were extinguished and thrown into the 
gutters and the men dispersed quickly. The Count went up a 
side-street, had himself disarmed by one of his servants and his 
weapons and armour thrown away, and put on his servant's 
robe. He told him to go his own way and escape if he could, 
and if he fell into the enemy's hands, to keep his mouth shut 
about liis master. The servant answered : ' Sir, they can kill me 
first.' So the Count remained alone. 

For some time at this late hour - it was about midnight or a 
little after - the Count of Flanders wandered desperately 
through streets and alleys, until he felt forced to go into some 
house or other. If not, he would be caught by the mercenaries 
from Ghent, and other men from Bruges, who were hunting 
for him all over the town. So he entered a poor woman's 



house. It was no lordly manor, with halls and chambers and 
courtyards, but a poor grimy hovel, blackened by the smoke 
of the peat fire. The house consisted simply of one miserable 
room on the street, with an old sheet of smoke-stained cloth 
in it to shield the fire, and overhead a cramped little loft 
which was reached by a ladder with seven rungs. In the loft 
was a wretched bed in which the poor woman's children were 

Distraught and trembling, the Count went in and said to the 
woman, who was terrified at his appearance: 'Woman, save 
me. I am your lord the Count of Flanders. But now I must 
hide, my enemies are after me. If you help me, I shall reward 
you well.' 

The poor woman recognized him, for she had often been to 
his door for alms. She had seen him coming and going when 
he went about his princely pleasures. She made up her mind 
quickly, which was a good thing for the Count, because if 
she had hesitated for a moment he would have been caught 
talking to her by the fire. ' Sir,' she said, 'go up to the loft and 
get under the bed where my children are sleeping.' He did as 
she told him, while she stayed looking after the fire and seeing 
to another small child which lay in a cradle. 

When the Count entered the loft he slipped as quietly as he 
could between the blanket and the mattress and huddled 
there, making himself as small as possible. Then the mer- 
cenaries of Ghent arrived at the house, some of them saying 
that they had seen a man going in. They found the poor 
woman nursing her baby by the fire. 'Woman,' they asked her, 
'where is the man we just saw coming in and shutting the 
door behind him?' 'Bless your hearts,' she repUed, 'I've seen 
no man come in here tonight. I went out myself a few minutes 
ago to throw out some water, and then shut the door again. 
Where could I hide him ? You can see all I've got here. There's 
my bed and my children are upstairs in another.' 

One of them took a candle and went up the ladder. He 
poked his head into the loft and saw nothing but the little bed 
with the children in it. He looked round carefully and said to 
his comrades: 'Come on, we're wasting our time here. The 


BOOK TWO (1376-85) 

woman's telling the truth. There's no one here but her and 
the kids.' 

With this they left the house and continued their search else- 
where. No one else came with evil intentions. 

The Count of Flanders had heard the whole conversation 
as he lay huddled in the little bed. The state of fear he was 
in can be imagined. What thoughts must he have had who 
in the morning could say, 'I am one of the great princes of 
Christendom', and that same night was reduced to such 
littleness ? Well could he say that the chances of this world are 

Francis Ackerman was one of the great captains of mer- 
cenaries and had been sent by Philip van Artcvelde and Pierre 
du Bois to make the street-to-street search through Bruges. 
They also held the market-place, and held it all that night until 
the next morning, when they saw that they were in entire 
control of the town. These mercenaries were strictly for- 
bidden to harm the traders and good people from other 
places who were in Bruges at the time, since they had nothing 
to do with this war. The order was quite well observed and 
Francis and his men did no harm or damage to any strangers. 
But vengeance was decreed by the Ghent men upon the four 
guilds of Bruges, the tailors, the glaziers, the butchers and the 
fishermen. All who could be found were to be killed, with no 
exceptions, because they had supported the Count outside 
Oudenarde and elsewhere. They went through the houses 
searching for those good people and killed them mercilessly 
wherever they found them. More than twelve hundred of them 
died that night and there were a number of other murders, 
robberies and crimes which never came to light. Many houses 
were plundered and women raped and killed and chests 
broken open, on such a scale that the poorest men of Ghent 
became rich. 

At seven o'clock on the Sunday morning the joyful news 
reached Ghent of how their men had defeated the Count and 
the Bruges men and were lords and masters of the city by right 
of conquest. The effect of the news on the population of 



Ghent, which had been in such desperate straits, can be 
imagined. There were processions and thanksgivings in the 
churches and praises to God who had shown them his mercy 
and lent them his aid to win the victory. More and more good 
news reached them as the day wore on, making them so wild 
with joy that they hardly knew what they were doing. . . . 

Inquiries were made in Bruges as to what had become of the 
Count. Some said that he had left the town on the Saturday. 
Others said he was still in Bruges, hidden somewhere where he 
might yet be found. The leaders of the Ghent men took little 
notice. They were so elated by the victory and their ascen- 
dancy over their enemies that they thought nothing of any 
count, baron or knight in Flanders, but considered them- 
selves so great that they would soon be the masters of every- 
thing. Philip van Artevelde and Pierre du Bois remembered 
how, when they had left Ghent, it was completely empty of 
wine and foodstuffs. They sent some of their men to Damme 
and Sluys to take possession of those towns and the supplies 
inside them, so as to re-provision the town of Ghent. 

I was told at the time, and I believe it was true, that the 
Count of Flanders got out of Bruges on the Sunday night. 
How, I do not know, nor whether someone let him through 
the gates ; I think they probably did. In any case, he came out 
alone and on foot, clad in a cheap and simple robe. Finding 
himself in the country, his spirits revived and he felt he was 
over the worst danger. He walked on at random until he 
came to a large bush and stopped under it to consider which 
way to go. He did not know the country or the roads and had 
never been along them on foot. While he was squatting 
there he heard a man speaking. It was one of his knights who 
had married an illegitimate daughter of his and whose name 
was Sir Robert Le Marescal. He recognized his voice and 
called to him as he went past: 'Is that you, Robin?' * Yes, sir,' 
said the knight, recognizing his voice also. ' You've given me 
a lot of trouble looking for you round Bruges. How did you 
get away?' 'Come, come, Robin,' said the Count, 'this is no 
time to relate our adventures. Try and get me a horse, I'm 


BOOK TWO (1376-85) 

tired of walking. And take the Lille road, if you know which 
it is.' 'Yes, sir, I do know,' his knight replied. 

They walked all that night until sunrise next morning before 
they could find a horse. The first which the Count had was a 
mare belonging to some worthy man in a village. The Count 
got on its back, with no saddle or saddle-cloth, and rode it 
like that till the Monday evening, when he came across coun- 
try to the castle of Lille. The majority of the knights who had 
escaped from the battle of Bruges were also making their way 
there, some on horseback and some on foot. Not all, however, 
took that road. Some went by sea to Holland and Zealand and 
stayed there to await developments. 

Ghent prospers for a short time, ruled by Philip van Artevelde 
in almost princely state. Many Flemish towns desert the Count and 
join him, except for Oudenarde, which he besieges through the summer. 
The Count invokes the aid of the young King of France, acting 
through the Duke of Burgundy, his own son-in-law. Van A.rtevelde 
for his part looks to England and sends a mission to hondon which 
offers the English an unopposed entry through the Flemish ports and 
at the same time demands repayment of a loan of 200,000 francs 
made to Edward III nearly forty years previously. The royal council is 
highly amused and keeps the mission ivaiting. By the time their 
answer is sent, offering an alliance, it is too late. 

The French support the Count in strength. An army assembled at 
Arras finds a way across the River Tys, intended as the Flemish line 
of defence, and moves on Ypres. Y pre s goes over to them, together with 
a number of other towns. Eeaving the siege of Oudenarde, Van 
Artevelde marches confidently to meet them. The two armies confront 
each other near Koosebeke, today Westrot^ebeke, a village some two 
miles north of Passchendaele. The Golden Mount (Goudberg) which 
lay between the French and the Flemings is the same high ground 
which marked the limit of the British-Canadian advance in the 
offensive of 1 91 J. 


'^Battle of Koosebeke (i^Si) 

When the Flemings had settled down for the night - while 
keeping good watch, for they knew that the enemy were 
within three miles of them - I was told that Philip van Arte- 
velde had liis girl with him : she was a young lady from Ghent 
who had accompanied him on the campaign. While Philip 
was asleep on a camp-bed near the coal fire in his tent, this 
woman went out at about midnight to look at the sky and the 
weather and find out the time, because she was unable to 
sleep. She looked towards Roosebeke and saw smoke and 
sparks in several parts of the sky, coming from the camp 
fires which the French had lit under hedges and bushes. She 
then thought she heard a great commotion between their army 
and the French army, with shouts of 'Montjoie!' and other 
cries. It seemed to come from the Golden Mount between 
them and Roosebeke. Thoroughly frightened, she went back 
into the tent and roused Philip, saying: 'Get up quickly 
and arm yourself. I can hear a great noise on the Golden 
Mount. I think the French are coming to attack you.' Philip 
got up at once and put a cloak on. Picking up an axe, he 
went out of the tent to see if there was anything in what she 

He heard the same thing that she had heard. There seemed 
to be some great disturbance going on. Going back to the 
tent, he ordered his trumpet to be blown to give the alert. 
The whole army recognized its sound, got up and began to 
arm. The men who were keeping watch ahead of them sent 
some of their comrades to Philip to ask what they had missed, 
since everyone was arming. Word went back to them that they 
were held greatly to blame for having heard all tliis commo- 
tion in the enemy's direction and not having given the alarm. 
*Ha,' they said, 'go back and tell Philip that we did hear some 
noise on the Golden Mount and we sent men to find out 
what it was. They reported that it was nothing, they found 


BOOK TWO (1376-85) 

and saw nothing. Since there were no signs of movement we 
decided not to rouse the army, for fear of getting into trouble.* 

When PhiHp was told this, he was reassured. But in his own 
mind he wondered what it could have been. Some say that it 
was the devils of hell revelling and whirling round on the 
spot where the battle was to be fought, in anticipation of the 
huge prey they would get from it. 

After this alert the Flemings could not settle down again, 
fearing constantly that they might be taken by surprise. So 
they armed themselves at a leisurely pace, lit big fires by their 
tents and ate a good breakfast, for they had plenty of food and 
wine. About an hour before daybreak PhiHp said : ' It would be 
a good thing to move into the open and draw up our men. 
Then, if the French attack when it grows light, we shall be 
waiting for them and ready to fight our own battle.' 

All agreed to this and they left their encampment and 
marched to a stretch of heathland next to a wood. In front of 
them they had a fairly wide ditch which had been newly dug. 
Behind them was a thick patch of brambles, gorse and other 
brushwood. In this strong position they drew up without 
haste, forming one large division, deep and solid. According 
to the reports made by their Constables they numbered about 
fifty thousand, all picked men chosen for their strength, their 
fighting skill and daring, and their readiness to hazard their 
lives. There were about sixty English archers who had 
deserted from the garrison at Calais to make more money 
with Philip. In their encampment they left all the baggage 
they had, trunks, beds and other things - everything except 
their arms - and their carts, horses and pack-animals, women 
and servants. But Philip van Artevelde had his page beside 
him mounted on a magnificent horse, good enough for a lord 
and worth five hundred florins. He brought it with him, not 
because he intended to run away and leave his men, but 
through pride and so that he could mount it if there were a 
pursuit of the French. Then he could command his troops and 
shout: 'Kill! Kill them all r 

He had in his army about nine thousand men from Ghent 
whom he kept beside him, having greater confidence in them 



than in the others. These were in the van with their banners, 
together with the men from the castlewicks of Alost and 
Grammont. Behind them were those from the castlewick of 
Courtrai, and then the men of Bruges, of Damme and of Sluys. 
Most of those from the district round Bruges were armed with 
hammers and picks, and wore iron helmets and coats and 
gauntlets of whaleskin. Each carried a shaft having an iron 
spike with a ferrule. The men from each town or castlewick 
had similar uniforms so as to recognize each other : one com- 
pany wore coats with horizontal blue and yellow bands, 
another red coats with black bands, another had white 
chevrons on blue coats, another coats with wavy stripes of 
green and blue, another chequered black-and-white bands, 
another black and red quarterings, another blue coats with 
one red quartering, another had the top half red and the 
bottom white. Each company had the banners of their guilds 
and long knives stuck in their belts, and in this order they 
stood motionless waiting for day to break. 

The French army is also ready for battle. With it are the young 
King Charles 1/T, his uncles, his Constable, Olivier de Clisson, the 
L.ord de Coucj, the Count of Flanders and a glittering array of 
French and allied knights. In the early morning mist three knights 
go out on the usual reconnoitre of the enemy. They find the Flemish 
army on the move. 

When the thick mist lifted on that Thursday morning, the 
Flemings, who had gone to their strong position before day- 
light and had stayed there till about eight o'clock without 
seeing any sign of the French, felt that they were in such huge 
numbers that they became over-confident. The captains began 
talking to each other and saying: 'What are we doing here, 
standing on our feet and getting chilled ? Why not go boldly 
forward, since we feel like it, and seek out the enemy and 
fight him ? It's no good waiting in this place. The French will 
never come to challenge us here. Let's go at least as far as the 
Golden Mount and get the advantage of the high ground.' 

So many expressed the same opinion that they all agreed to 
move forward and go up the Golden Mount, which was be- 
tween them and the French. To avoid the ditch in front of 


BOOK TWO (1376-85) 

them, they went round behind the wood and had a clear march 
across the fields. 

While they were doing this, the three French knights arrived 
at such an opportune moment that they could see their whole 
force and reconnoitre it at leisure. They rode over the fields 
skirting the battalions which closed up together, well within 
bow-shot of them, and when they had passed them on the 
left and gone beyond them, they came back on the right. In 
this way they had a thorough view of the army in breadth and 
depth. The Flemings saw quite well that they were there, but 
paid no attention and never broke their ranks. Also, the 
knights were so well mounted and so experienced in this 
exercise that they thought nothing of it. . . . 

When the Flemings were ready to go up on the Golden 
Mount, they halted and re-formed in one close-ordered body 
and Philip said to them : ' Sirs, when the battle begins, remem- 
ber how our enemies were shattered at the battle of Bruges by 
ourselves keeping steady and close together, so that our ranks 
could not be broken. Do that today. Let each hold his pike 
straight in front of him, and put your arms round each other, 
so that no one can get between you. Keep marching slowly and 
steadily forward without turning to left or right. And, just 
before the clash comes, let our bombards and cannons fire and 
our crossbowmen shoot. That will scare the enemy!' 

Having given these instructions and seen that the men were 
drawn up in proper order, Philip van Artevelde posted him- 
self on one of the flanks, surrounded by the men in whom he 
had the greatest trust. To his page who was riding his horse he 
said : ' Go and wait for me near that bush out of range. When 
you see that the French are beaten and running, bring up my 
horse and shout my battle-cry. The men will make way for 
you. Come right up to me, for I want to lead the pursuit.' 
The page obeyed. Philip also placed next to him the English 
archers who had come to serve him for pay. 

You can see how well this Philip had made his dispositions. 
That is my opinion, and is the opinion also of many experi- 
enced soldiers. He made only one mistake, which was this: 
he left the strong position to which he had gone in the morn- 



ing, where the enemy would never have come to fight him 
because they could not have reached him without suffering 
over-heavy losses. 

The three French scouts return to the King and make an optimistic 
report. The French prepare to go into action, 

A number of banners were taken out and unfurled. It was 
decided that, when the moment came to join battle, the King's 
division with the oriflamme should be in the forefront, while 
the vanguard should go right round on one flank and the 
rearguard on the other. They would attack the Flemings 
simultaneously with their lances, hemming them in and 
pressing upon those serried ranks, to their own great advan- 

Soon afterwards the oriflamme was unfurled, carried by Sir 
Pierre de Villiers. Some people say that, according to the old 
records, it has never been unfurled against Christians except 
on that occasion. There was much debate about whether to 
use it or not on this campaign. However, after several con- 
siderations had been weighed, it was finally decided to unfurl 
it because the Flemish were of the opposite persuasion to 
Pope Clement and proclaimed themselves Urbanists. For this, 
the French said that they were unbelievers and outside the 

This oriflamme is a revered and famous banner. It was sent 
down mysteriously from heaven and is a kind of gonfalon. 
It brings great comfort to those who see it. Its virtues were 
proved then, for all morning the mist had been so thick that 
the men could hardly see each other, but as soon as the loiight 
bearing it had unfurled it and held it up, the mist dispersed 
and the sky became as pure and clear as it had been the whole 
year. When they saw the sun shining out on this beautiful 
day, and had a clear view all round them and of the distance, 
the French nobles had good reason to feel heartened. Then it 
was a splendid sight to see those banners, those helms, that 
fine armour, those glittering lance-blades at the ready, those 
pennons and those coats-of-arms. And they kept absolutely 
still, none uttering a word, the front ranks watching the great 
army of the Flemings tramping towards them like a single 


BOOK TWO (1376-85) 

man. They marched slowly in serried ranks, their pikes raised 
straight in the air, and the shafts were like a forest, so enor- 
mous was their number. 

I was told by the Lord of Schoonvorst, who said he saw it 
himself, as did many others, that after the oriflamme had 
been raised and the mist had lifted, a white dove flew round 
several times above the King's division. When it was tired of 
flying and battle was about to be joined, it went and perched 
on one of the King's banners. This was taken as an excellent 

As the Flemings approached, they began to fire big bolts 
feathered^ with bronze from their bombards and cannons; 
so the battle began. The King of France's division met the 
first shock, a weighty one. Those Flemings, proud and in 
great heart, came down at them fierce and hard from the high 
ground, butting their pikes at them with all the force of their 
chests and shoulders, as though they were wild boars; and 
they were knit so tightly together that their ranks could not 
be broken. 

The first to be killed on the French side were the Lord of 
Wavrin, banneret, Morelet de Halewin and Jacques de Heere. 
The King's division was pushed back, but the vanguard and 
rearguard on the wings rode round and enveloped the Flem- 
ish, so that they became very hard-pressed. The men-at-arms 
began thrusting at their flanks with their stout, long-bladed 
lances of hard Bordeaux steel which penetrated their coats of 
mail to the flesh. Those who were attacked shrank back to 
escape the thrusts, for it would have been beyond human en- 
durance for them to stand their ground and be impaled. They 
were rammed so closely together that they could not move 
their arms or use their pikes to defend themselves. Many lost 
strength and breath, falling on top of each other, so that they 
collapsed and died without striking a blow. Philip van Arte- 
velde was surrounded, pierced with lances and borne down, 
with a number of the men of Ghent who were with him and 
loved him. When his page saw that his side was losing, he 
used the good horse on which he was mounted and rode off, 
I. With projections like the feathers of an arrow. 


leaving his master, since he could not help him. He went back 
towards Courtrai to return to Ghent. 

So this battle took shape, and when the Flemings were 
hemmed in and squeezed on both flanks they stopped ad- 
vancing because they could not use their weapons. The King's 
division, which had wavered a little at the beginning, re- 
covered heart. Men-at-arms set about beating down Flemings 
lustily. Some had sharp axes with which they split helmets and 
knocked out brains, others lead maces with which they dealt 
such blows that they felled them to the ground. Hardly were 
they down than the pillagers came slipping in between the 
men-at-arms, carrying long knives with which they finished 
them off. They had no more mercy on them than if they had 
been dogs. So loud was the banging of swords, axes, maces 
and iron hammers on those Flemish helmets that nothing else 
could be heard above the din. I was told that if all the ar- 
mourers of Paris and Brussels had been brought together, 
plying their trade, they would not have made a greater noise 
than those warriors hammering on the helms before them. 

Knights and squires did not spare themselves, but went to 
work with a will, vying with one another. Some advanced too 
far into the press and were surrounded and crushed . . . for 
which reason there were a certain number of French dead. 
But they were not very many, because they came to each 
others' help whenever possible. There was a great pile of 
Flemish dead, long and high, but never before in so great a 
battle in which so many were killed had so little blood been 
seen flowing. This was because by far the greatest number 
were crushed or smothered to death, and these men did not 

So on the Golden Mount were the Flemings defeated, and 
the pride of Flanders humbled and Philip van Artevelde slain; 
and with him nine thousand men from the town of Ghent and 
its dependencies. There died that day, the heralds reported, 
more than twenty-six thousand men on the field without 
counting the pursuit. The battle lasted only an hour-and-a- 
half from the time it was joined till the time it was won. After 


BOOK TWO (1376-85) 

that victory, which was greatly to the honour and advantage 
of all Christendom and of all the gentry and nobility - for if 
the villeins had achieved their purpose, unexampled ravages 
and atrocities would have been committed by the commons in 
rebellion everywhere against the nobly born - the citizens of 
Paris with their long hammers became more cautious. How 
did they Hke the news of the defeat of the Flemings and the 
death of their leader? They were not cheered by it. Neither 
were the Goodmen in a number of other towns. . . . 

When the King of France had retired from the battle-field to 
a tent of crimson silk very elegantly and richly designed, 
and had taken off his armour, his uncles and many French 
barons went there to congratulate him. Then he remembered 
Philip van Artevelde and he said to those around him: *I 
would like to see that Philip, dead or alive.' His men replied 
that they would do their utmost to find him. It was an- 
nounced throughout the army that whoever found Philip 
van Artevelde would be given ten francs. Grooms and ser- 
vants began searching among the dead, who had already 
been stripped from head to foot. They were so filled with 
thirst for gain that in the end Philip was found and recognized 
by a man who had long been his servant and knew him well. 
His body was carried and dragged to the King's tent. The 
King looked at him for a time, and the lords also. He was 
turned over to see if he had died of wounds, but there were no 
wounds such as could have caused his death. He had been 
crushed in the press and had fallen into a ditch, with a great 
mass of Ghent men on top of him. When they had looked 
at him for a time they took him away and hanged him from a 
tree. Such was the final end of Philip van Artevelde. 

On the next day, Friday, the King decamped from Roose- 
beke because of the stench of the dead and was advised to 
make for Courtrai, to rest and refresh himself there. On the 
day of the battle the Hare of Flanders ^ and various Flemish 
knights and squires who knew the country, some two hun- 
dred lances in all, had ridden over to Courtrai, entering the 
I. Name given to the bastard son of the Count. 


town without opposition. Women both rich and poor and 
numerous men took refuge in cellars and churches to escape 
death; it was pitiful to see them. So the first to enter the town 
had a fine haul of plunder, and after them little by little came 
French, Bretons and others, finding lodgings for themselves 
as they arrived. The King entered Courtrai on the first of 
December. A great massacre was at once begun, down below 
the town, of the Flemings who had retreated there, none being 
spared. The French hated the Flemings and those of Courtrai 
in particular, because of a battle which had been fought there 
in the past, in which Count Robert of Artois had been killed, 
with all the flower of French chivalry. Now their successors 
wanted to avenge them. 

It came to the King's knowledge that in the Church of 
Notre-Dame at Courtrai was a chapel in which five hundred 
gilded spurs were hung. These spurs had belonged to the 
French knights killed in the battle mentioned, in the year 
1302. Every year the citizens held a great festival round them, 
in celebration of their triumph. The King said that they should 
pay for it, as indeed they did, and that when he left the town 
should go up in fire and flames. So they would remember in 
time to come that the King of France had been there. 


Qharles VI Marries Isabella of l^avaria (i^Sj) 

I HAVE already related how the Duke of Burgundy and Duke 
Albert of Bavaria, Lord of Hainault, Holland, Zealand, and 
lease-lord of Friesland, had met at Cambrai for the marriage 
of their children,^ to which wedding the young King of 
France also came, and a magnificent occasion it was. Now, 
according to my information, it was during that week when 
the King of France was there, with his uncles of Burgundy and 
Bourbon and Duke Albert and the ladies, the Duchesses of 
Burgundy and of Brabant and the Countess of Hainault, that 
on the initiative of Madame de Brabant secret discussions 
were held about a marriage between the young King of 
France and my lady Isabella, the daughter of Duke Stephen of 
Bavaria. It was recalled that on his death-bed King Charles V 
of France of happy memory had desired that, if a suitable 
match could be found, his son Charles should be married to 
some German lady. In this way the Germans and the French 
would be drawn into closer alliance, for he saw how the King 
of England's position had been strengthened by his marriage 
to the sister of the King of Germany. ^ 

The Duchess of Brabant, who had a talent for this kind of 
thing, pointed out to the King's uncles and his council when 
at Cambrai that the young lady was the daughter of a great 
nobleman in Germany, the most powerful of the Bavarians, 
and that strong alliances with the Germans would result. Duke 
Stephen could influence the decisions of the highest lords in 
the Empire, for he was as great or greater than the King of 
Germany. It was this consideration which did most to per- 
suade the King of France and his council to go on with the 
matter, but it was handled very discreetly and very few people 

1 . The double marriage of Margaret of Hainault to John of Burgundy, 
and William of Hainault to Margaret of Burgundy (Easter, 1385). Frois- 
sart's description of their wedding is omitted in this selection. 

2. Richard II had married Anne of Bohemia in 1382. 



knew about it until it was concluded. You may want to know 
the reason for this, and I will tell you. 

It is the custom in France for any lady, however great her 
Family may be, whom it is intended to marry to the King, to 
36 seen and examined by ladies in a completely naked state, to 
decide whether she is fit and properly formed to bear children. 
Besides this, the lady lived in a country as far distant as 
Bavaria and it was not known, once she had been brought to 
France, whether she would be to the liking of the King. If 
lot, the whole thing would be broken off". For these reasons 
everything was done in secret, and towards Whitsun the lady 
cvas taken to Brabant where the Duchess received her warmly 
md instructed her in French ways. With her was her uncle, 
Duke Frederick of Bavaria, who in fact had been the first 
person to suggest the marriage, in this way. 

The very first time Duke Frederick had come to France to 
:ake part in the siege of Bourbourg,^ he had been made much 
)f by the King's uncles and the rest of the royal family, be- 
:ause he had come to help the King from the distant country 
)f Bavaria, which is over six hundred miles away. He was felt 
o have rendered a very great service and was consequently 
ilways lodged near the King for friendship's sake and spent 
nuch time in the company of the King's uncles. When he had 
;et out from Bavaria, he certainly supposed that the Kings of 
"ranee and England would be meeting in battle either in 
^landers or in France, since that was the common belief at 
he time throughout Germany, and for that reason King 
Dharles and his uncles felt all the more grateful to him. So it 
lappened, when they were all on that campaign around 
3ergues and Bourbourg, that the royal dukes, chatting to- 
gether as great lords do, asked him whether he hadn't a mar- 
iageable daughter, because the King of France needed a wife, 
ind they would rather have a Bavarian marriage than any 
)ther, since in former days there had always been Bavarians 
)n the King's council. Duke Frederick had repUed that he 
ladn't one, but that his elder brother, Duke Stephen, had a 

I, In 1383, in the continuation of the Flanders campaign after Roose- 


BOOK TWO (1376-85) 

very pretty one. 'What age?' asked the King's uncles. 'Be- 
tween thirteen and fourteen.' 'That's just what we want/ they 
said. 'When you are back in Bavaria, talk it over with your 
brother and bring your niece on a pilgrimage to St John's of 
Amiens. The King will be there. If he sees her, perhaps he will 
desire her. He likes to see beautiful women around him and 
soon grows fond of them. If she finds the way to his heart, 
she will be Queen of France.' 

That was how the first steps were taken, but nothing more 
was said or done and at that time the King himself had no idea 
that there had been talk of his marriage. When Duke Frederick 
returned to Bavaria, he reported all this to his brother Duke 
Stephen, who thought it over for a long time and then said: 
'My dear brother, I quite believe that things are as you told 
me and my daughter would be happy indeed if she could rise 
so high as to be Queen of France. But it's a long way from 
here, and also there is that examination to be passed before she 
could become the wife of a king. I should feel exceedingly 
offended if, having sent my daughter to France, she was then 
brought back to me. I would prefer to marry her in my own 
time somewhere nearer home.' 

Duke Frederick had to be satisfied with his brother's reply, 
and he wrote letters to that effect to the King's uncles, his 
own uncle Duke Albert, and Madame de Brabant, to whom 
he had mentioned the matter on his way home. He thought 
that the whole thing would now be forgotten. Besides, an- 
other match seemed to be in the air and it looked as though 
the King would soon be betrothed to the Duke of Lorraine's 
daughter, who was a very pretty young lady of about his own 
age, and of high and noble lineage, belonging to the Blois 
family. There was also talk of the Duke of Lancaster's 
daughter, who later became Queen of Portugal, but in her 
case no arrangement could be made on account of the war; 
so that project had to be dropped. 

It was then that the Duchess of Brabant revived the idea 
of the Bavarian marriage on the occasion of the Burgundy- 
Hainault wedding at Cambrai, maintaining that, on account 
of the German connexions which it would bring, it was the 



most advantageous and honourable match that she could see 
for the King. *True, dear lady/ replied his uncles. 'But the 
whole thing seems to be dead now.' 'Now you just keep 
quiet,' said the Duchess, 'and leave it to me. I will bring it up 
again and I promise that you will hear more about it this 
summer.' The Duchess made good her promise, for she 
worked so hard that Duke Stephen agreed to allow Duke 
Frederick to take his daughter off w4th him, and they gave 
out on their way that they were going on a pilgrimage to St 
John's of Amiens. Everyone believed this, because the Ger- 
mans are much given to going on pilgrimages and it is an 
established custom with them. 

When Duke Frederick and his niece, my lady Isabella of 
Bavaria, had stayed for three days with the Duchess of Bra- 
bant at Brussels, they took leave of her and went on. This was 
all part of the Duchess's plan and, as they were leaving, she 
promised that she would be at Amiens as soon as they, if not 
sooner, for she also meant to go there on pilgrimage. On that 
understanding, she set about making her arrangements. 

Meanwhile Duke Frederick and his niece entered Hainault 
and went straight to Le Quesnoy, where they found the Duke 
and Duchess and William of Hainault, who styled himself 
Count of Ostrevant, and his wife, the daughter of the Duke of 
Burgundy, who all gave them a very friendly welcome; for 
Duke Albert was Duke Frederick's uncle, so the young lady 
was his niece too. 'And how did you manage to bring her 
away ? ' asked Duke Albert and his wife, who knew that Duke 
Stephen had been strongly opposed to it, for the reasons 
already given. 'Well,' said Duke Frederick, 'it was not at all 
easy. But I lectured and badgered my brother so much that he 
let me take her. But just as we were leaving, after he had kissed 
his daughter, he called me aside and said: "Frederick, brother 
Frederick, yOu are taking away my daughter with absolutely 
no certainty of the outcome, since if the King of France does 
not want her, she will be disgraced for the rest of her life. 
So think carefully what you are doing, for if you bring her 
back here you will have no worse enemy than me." Just 
consider, my dear uncle, and you, my dear aunt, what a 


BOOK TWO (1576-85) 

predicament I have put myself into for my niece's advance- 

'Have no fear, my dear nephew,' the Duchess replied. 
'God will look after her, she will be Queen of France. Then 
your brother's threats will turn to gratitude.' 

Duke Frederick and his niece remained at Le Quesnoy with 
their uncle and the Duchess and their children for a full three 
weeks. The Duchess, who was very experienced in such 
things, instructed the young Bavarian lady daily in manners 
and behaviour, although she was graceful and sensible by 
nature and had received a good upbringing, though she knew 
no French. The Duchess of Hainault could not leave her with 
the clothes and outfit she had come with, for they were too 
simple by French standards. She had her dressed, bejewelled 
and equipped as lavishly as if she had been her own daughter. 
When everything was perfect and it was time to set off, she 
and the Duchess and the Duchess's daughter-in-law left Le 
Quesnoy in great pomp along the Cambrai road. With Duke 
Albert, Duke Frederick, WilUam of Hainault and their retinue, 
they made good progress until they came to Amiens. 

To that place the Duchess of Brabant had come by another 
road. The King of France and his council and the Duke and 
Duchess of Burgundy were also there. The Lord de La 
Riviere and Sir Guy de La Tremoille, with barons, knights and 
squires, came out from Amiens to meet the Duchess of 
Hainault and escort her to her mansion. Once all these lords 
and ladies were lodged within the city, they began to exchange 
visits among themselves and to entertain lavishly. But very 
few people, except the three dukes and duchesses and their 
children and the Lord de La Riviere and Sir Guy de La 
Tremoille and the Lord de Coucy - whom the Duke of 
Berry had sent word to at Avignon a little previously, which 
brought him back with all speed - knew why they were 
assembled here. But the King could hardly sleep for eagerness 
to see his prospective bride, and he kept asking the Lord de 
La Riviere: 'When am I going to see her?' The ladies had 
some good laughs when they heard about this. 

On the Friday, when the young lady had been dressed and 



adorned as befitted her, the three duchesses led her before the 
King. As she came up to him, she sank in a low curtsey at his 
feet. The King went towards her and, taking her by the hand, 
raised her up and looked at her long and hard. With that look 
love and delight entered his heart. He saw that she was young 
and beautiful and was filled with a great desire to see her and 
have her. Then said the Constable of France to the Lord de 
Coucy and the Lord de La Riviere : ' This lady is going to stay 
with us. The King cannot take his eyes off her.' 

Thereupon all those lords and ladies burst into conversa- 
tion, while the young Isabella stood quite silent, moving not 
a feature of her face. Also at that date she knew no French. 

After a little while, the ladies took their leave of the King 
and withdrew, taking their girl with them. She went back 
with Madame de Hainault and her daughter of Ostrevant. 
The King's intentions were still not known, but they soon 
became so, for when he also withdrew the Duke of Burgundy 
charged the Lord de La Riviere to ask him what he thought 
of the young lady and whether he liked her enough to marry 
her. The Duke did this because the King talked more freely 
to the Lord de La Riviere than to anyone else. So when they 
were in private he asked liim : ' Sire, what do you think of the 
young lady? Is she to stay with us? Will she be Queen of 
France?' 'Upon my honour,' said the King, 'yes! We want 
no other. And tell my uncle of Burgundy, in God's name, 
to make haste about it.' 

Leaving the King, the Lord de La Riviere went to another 
room where the Duke of Burgundy was waiting and reported 
this answer. ' So be it! ' said the Duke, 'It is our wish, too.' He 
called immediately for his horse and went with a large escort 
to take the news to the Hainault household. It was greeted 
with deUght and cries of ' Wonderful ! ' The lords and ladies 
met on that same Friday to decide where the marriage should 
take place. They agreed to leave Amiens and go to Arras for 
the wedding ceremony and festivities. Such was the decision of 
the King's uncles and his council, and on that understanding 
they broke off and went to bed. 

On the Saturday morning the chamberlains and valets set 


BOOK TWO (1376-85) 

off for Arras to take over houses and prepare apartments. The 
lords and ladies expected to leave after dinner and spend the 
night at Ancre or Bapaume or Beauquesne. But this plan was 
altered, because when the King came away from mass and 
saw the servants packing up and getting ready to go, he said 
to the Lord de La Riviere : ' Gerald, where are we going to ? ' 
' Sire, your uncle of Burgundy has arranged for you to go to 
Arras, to be married and hold the festivities there.' ' But why ? ' 
said the King. ' Is anything wrong with Amiens ? This seems 
as good a place to be married in as Arras.' While he was speak- 
ing the Duke of Burgundy came in. 'Uncle,' said the King, 
' it is our wish to be married in this fine cathedral of Amiens. 
We do not want any further delays.' 'Just as you say, my 
lord,' said the Duke. 'I must go and see my cousin of Hainault, 
then. She was last informed that she should leave here for 

Accompanied by several great lords, the Duke visited the 
Duchess and found her in her room with the bride who was to 
become his niece beside her. He bowed to them with fitting 
courtesy and then said to the Duchess, laugliing: 'Madam and 
fair cousin, the King has countermanded our journey to 
Arras. He is obsessed by the prospect of this marriage. He 
admitted that he could not sleep last night for thinking of his 
bride-to-be. So the plan now is for you to stay here quietly 
today and tomorrow, and then on Monday we will find a 
cure for these two poor young invalids.' The Duchess burst 
out laughing and said: 'God's will be done!' 

When Monday came Duchess Margaret of Hainault dressed 
and adorned the young lady who was to be Queen of France 
with all the pomp appropriate to a royal bride. The Duchess of 
Brabant joined them, accompanied by numerous ladies and 
maids-of-honour, and then the Duchess of Burgundy also 
arrived. The three duchesses led off the young Isabella of 
Bavaria in covered carriages of indescribable magnificence, 
wearing on her head the crown, worth a king's ransom, which 
the King had sent to her on the Sunday. Outside the cathedral 
church of Amiens they were met by Duke Albert, Duke 



Frederick, William of Hainault and many barons and knights, 
coming in great state. Soon the King and the Duke of 
Burgundy arrived. So the young lady was led in by those 
lords and ladies with all possible honour, and married with 
due ceremony to the King by the bishop of the diocese. 

After high mass and the solemn rites of marriage had been 
celebrated, they went on to the bishop's palace where the 
King was staying. A wedding-feast had been prepared there 
for the ladies, and a separate one for the King and the great 
nobles. They were served at table by none but counts and 
barons. So the day passed by in great feasting and merri- 
ment, and in the evening the ladies put the bride to bed, for 
that duty belonged to them. Then the King, who so much 
desired to find her in his bed, came too. They spent that night 
together in great delight, as you can well beUeve. 




e^/ the Court of the Qount of J^oix {1^88) 

In the autumn ofi^88Frgusm. mshingto obtain first-hand material 
Jor bts Ihird Book, which he was writing under the patronage of 
Count Guy de Blois, undertookji4amm^^^ jj,i 

n ^as the seat of Gaston -PhosbMS ofForxL^ ,:Z::7Jr r.......f., ,^, 

!!2lpmiiet±ElBJidlo ruled a territory north of the Pyrenm^ 
made up of Beam, the County of Foix and other domains. Bordering 
French territory in Languedoc, English territory in Gasconj, and the 
Kingdom of Navarre in Spain, it was an ideal centre in which to 
gather information on happenings in the south, and particularly in 
Spain and Portugal, in which Froissart was then interested. The 
chronicler s journey on horseback took him westwards from Car- 
cassonne into the Count's domains, where he Joined a knight of the 
^ount s, Sir Espan de Lyon, who was returning from a mission to 
Avignon. The two rode on together. Sir Espan talking informatively 
of events connected with the towns and castles they saw on their way 
Aper several days in each other's company, they reach Orthe^ 

[Leaving Morlaas] the next day, we reached Bougarber for 
dinner then mounted our horses again, stopped for a drink 
at Arthez, and came into Orthez just at sunset. The knight 
went to his own house and I to the Hostelry of the Moon 
kept by a squire of the Count's called Ernauton du Pin who 
made me very welcome because I was French. Sir Espan de 
Lyon, m whose company I had travelled, presently went up 
to the castle to discuss his affairs with the Count. He found 
him m his gallery, having just had supper, for it had been the 
Count of Foix's custom since boyhood xc h.... a sleep in the 

afternoon aoTte LS^La^aUmMgHtrTlie knight-^toHlumoFm? 
arrival. He immediately sent down to the hostelry to fetch 
me, for he was - and is now, if he is still alive - particularly 
mterested m meeting strangers and in hearing their news. 
When he saw me, he welcomed me warmly and made me a 
member of his household, where I stayed for over twelve 
weeks, with my horses fed and well looked after in every way. 


BOOK THREE (1386-8) 

To show on what terms he was with me during that time, 
I should say that I had brought with me a book which I had 
composed at the request of my lord Wenceslas of Bohemia, 
Duke of Luxemburg and Brabant. Contained in this book, 
entitled Meliador, are all the songs, ballades, rondeaux and 
virelays which the noble Duke wrote in his time. These things, 
thanks to the skill with which I had inserted and arranged 
them in the book, pleased the Count greatly, and every night 
after supper I used to read some of them to him. While I was 
reading no one presumed to speak a word, for he insisted that 
I should be heard distinctly, and not least by himself. When I 
reached some point which he wanted to discuss, he was always 
eager to talk it over with me, speaking, not in his own Gascon, 
but in excellent French. 

At the time when I was with him. Count Gaston of Foix 
was about fifty-nine. I can say that, though I have seen many 
knights, kings, princes and others in my life, I have never seen 
one wh a was so finelv bn jltj ^^^i^-V* better-prop orti oned limbs 
and body or so handsome a face, cheerful and smiling, with 
eyes which sparkled amiably when he was pleased to look at 
anyone. He was so accomplished in every way that it would 
be impossible to praise him too highly. He loved everything 
which it was right to love and hated whatever deserved 
hatred. He was a shrewd nobleman, bold in action and sound 
in judgement. He never kept unbelievers about him. He ruled 
his estates grandly. He said numerous prayers daily, reciting 
the Psalter at night, the Hours of Our Lady, of the Holy 
Spirit and of the Cross, with the Vigils for the Dead. Every 
day he had five francs given away in small coins for the love of 
God, and these alms were distributed at his door to all kinds 
of people. He was generous and open-handed. He knew ex- 
actly from whom it was proper to take and to whom to give. 
He loved dogs more than all other animals and was very fond 
of hunting, both in summer and winter. He took great pleas- 
ure in arms and love. 

He always disliked excessive extravagance and required an 
account of his wealth once every month. He chose twelve 



prominent men from his country to receive his rents and ad- 
minister his retainers. For each period of two months, two of 
them worked in his receiving-office and at the end of that time 
they were changed and two others took their place. The most 
outstanding of them, in whom he trusted most, was made his 
comptroller. To him all the others were responsible and 
rendered their accounts and receipts. The comptroller brought 
his accounts to his master on rolls or books, and left them for 
the Count to look over. He had a number of chests in his pri- 
vate room and from time to time, but not every day, he had 
money taken from them to give to some lord, knight or squire 
who had come to visit him, for no man ever left him without 
receiving a present. He was always increasing his wealth, as a 
precaution against the hazards of fortune which he feared. 
He was approachable and agreeable to everyone, speaking to 
them kindly and amiably. He had four secretaries to write and 
copy letters, and the four of them had to be ready waiting 
for him when he came out from his private apartment. He 
did not call them John or Walter or WilUam, but when he 
had read his letters and wanted to dictate or give them some 
order, he addressed them without distinction as You Shocking 

The Count of Foix lived in the way that I am describing to 
you. When he came out of his room at midnight to sup in his 
hall, twelve lighted torches were carried before him by twelve 
serving-men, and these twelve torches were held up in front 
of his table, giving a bright light in the hall, which was full of 
knights and squires and always contained plenty of tables 
laid for supper for any who wanted it. No one spoke to him 
at his own table unless he first asked him to. He usually ate 
much poultr y - but only the wings and the legs - and drank 
little. He took great pleasure in minstrelsy, of which he had 
an excellent kno^yl^dge. He liked his clerks to sing songs^ 
rondeaux and virelays to him. He would remain at table for 
about two hours, and he also enjoyed having travelling enter- 
tainers to perform between the courses. After he had watched 
them, he sent them round the tables of the knights and squires. 

In short, I observed all this and reflected that, before I came 


BOOK THREE (1386-8) 

to Orthez, I had been in many courts of kings, dukes, princes, 
counts and great ladies, but I had never been to one which 
pleased me more or in which there was more enthusiasm for 
deeds of arms. One saw knights and squires coming and going 
in the hall and the rooms and the courtyard, and one heard 
them talking of arms and love. Every subject of honour was 
discussed. Reports from every country and kingdom were to 
be heard, for, because of the reputation of the master of the 
house, they were brought there in great abundance. At 
Orthez I was informed of most of the feats of arms which had 
taken place in Spain, Portugal, Aragon, Navarre, England, 
Scotland and within the borders of Languedoc, for while stay- 
ing there I met knights and squires from all those nations who 
had come to visit the Count. And so I gathered information 
either from them or from the Count himself, who was always 
willing to talk to me of such matters. 

When I saw the rich and lavish scale on which the Count 
lived, I became extremely curious ^ to discover what had- hap- 
pened to h is son GastonT^ r bywhat misadventure he had 
died, for Sir Espan de Lyon had been unwilling to tell me. I 
continued to inquire until an old and distinguished squire 
gave me the story. He told it me in these words : 

*It is true that the C ount of Foix and Madame de Foi x, his 
w^ife, are estranged from each other, and have been for a very 
long time. The quarrel between the m was caused by the la dy's 
brother, t he King of Navarre, aiter the King had gone surety 
for the Lord of Albret, whom the Count of Foix was holding 
to ransom for fifty thousand francs. The Count, who knew 
the King of Navarre to be cunning and deceitful, would not 
allow him credit for that sum, whereupon the Countess grew 
highly indignant w^ith her husband and said to him : 

' '' My lord, vou do little honour to my noble broth er by re- 
fnsing hi m credit for fifty th <^^^^^"<i francs. Even if you never 
nave any more men from Armagnac or from Albret in your 
power, as you have had them in the past, his word ought to 
satisfy you. And you know that you still have to provide fifty 
thousand francs for my marriage-settlement and to deliver 



the money into the hands of my brother, so you cannot lose 
in any case." 

* "Lady," he said, "you are quite right. But if I thought that 
the King of Navarre might wriggle out of this payment, the 
Lord of Albret should never leave Orthez until I was paid 
to the last farthing. But since you ask me, I will do this, not 
for your sake, but for my son's." 

'Upon this undertaking and the promise of the King of 
Navarre, who made himself responsible for the debt to the 
Count of Foix, the Lord of Albret was allowed to go free. 
He joined the French and was married in France to the sister 
of the Duke of Bourbon. He paid the fifty thousand francs at 
his convenience to the King of Navarre, according to his 
obligation, but the King did not send the money to the Count 
of Foix. Then the Count said to his wife : 

'"Lady, you must go to Navarre and see your brother the 
King and tell him that I am most displeased at his failure to 
send on my money which he has received." 

' The lady replied that she was willing to go and she left the 
Count with her retinue and wxnt to her brother at Pamplona, 
where she was made welcome. She delivered her husband's 
message fairly and exactly. When the King had heard her, he 

'" My dear sister, the money is yours since the Count of 
Foix owes it to you as your marriage-settlement, but it shall 
never leave the Kingdom of Navarre a s long as I am m 
control of it." 

'"Ah, my lord, that is a certain way of stirring up hatred 
between my husband and us. If you persist in what you have 
just said, I shall never dare to return to Foix, for my husband 
would say that I had deceived him and would kill me." 

' "It is not for me," said the King, who was determined not 
to part with the money, "to say what you should do, whether 
you should stay here or go back. But I am the master of this 
money. I am holding it on your behalf, but it shall never leave 

'The Countess of Foix could obtain nothing more from 
him, s o she stayed in Navarre, not daring to go back. The 


BOOK THREE (1386-8) 

Count, seeing the trickery of the King of Navarre, blamed his 
wife for it and began to hate her. Yet it was not her fault that 
she failed to go back as soon as she had delivered her mes- 
sage. It was more than she could risk, for she knew how harsh 
her husband could be when a thing displeased him. 

'Things remained thus. Meanwhile Gaston, the son of my 
lord the Count, grew up and became a very handsome young 
man and was married to the daughter of the Count of Arma- 
gnac. This young lady was the sister of the present Count and 
of Sir Bernard of Armagnac. Thanks to this marriage there 
would have been a settled peace between Armagnac and Foix. 
The young nobleman must have been about fifteen or sixteen. 
A veryg ood-looking sq uire he was, and very like his father 
in all physical respects. He was sei zed by a strong desire to go 
to Navarre to see hi s mother anHTus uncle j,It was a most un- 
happy thing both for him and for the country. 

'When he reached Navarre he was made welcome. He 
stayed for a time with his mother, then said good-bye to her, 
since by no word or entreaty could he persuade her to return 
to Foix with him. The lady had asked him whether his father 
had charged him to bring her back. He replied that when he 
left Foix there had been no mention of it, and for that reason 
she did not dare to risk going, but stayed where she was. The 
young man then went off to Pamplona to take leave of his 
uncle, the King. The King received him warmly and kept him 
there for ten days or more, giving handsome presents to him 
and his followers. The last present which he gave him was the 
young man's death. I will tell you how and why. 

' When the time came for the young man to leave, the King 
took him privately to his room and gave him a very fine little 
purse filled with a certain powder - of such a kind that, if any 
living creature ate or touched it, he would immediately and 
infallibly die. 

'"Gaston, my dear nephew," said the King, "you must do 
as I shall explain to you. You know that the Count of Foix 
has wrongly conceived a great hatred for your mother, my 
sister. This distresses me greatly, as it must you. However, to 
restore things to their proper state and put your father on 



good terms again with your mother, when a suitable moment 
comes you will take a little of this powder and will put it on 
your father's food, taking great care that no one sees you. 
As soon as he has tasted it, he will have one desire and one 
only : to have his wife, your mother, back with him, and they 
will love each other ever after so perfectly that they will never 
want to be separated again. That is a thing which you must de- 
sire with all your heart. But be very careful not to reveal what 
I am telling you to anyone who might repeat it to your father, 
for then you would ruin everything." 

' The young man, who believed all that his uncle told him, 
replied: "Yes, certainly." Thereupon he left Pamplona and 
went back to Orthez. His father was pleased to see him, as 
was natural. He asked him about Navarre and wanted to 
know what jewels or other presents had been given to him. 
He showed them all, except the little purse containing the 
powder, which he was careful to hide. 

*Now it was a frequent custom in the castle of Foix for 
Gaston and Yvain, his bastard brother, to sleep together in the 
same room. They were very fond of each other, as young 
brothers are, and they used the same clothes, for both were of 
about the same age and size. It happened one day that, play- 
ing and jumping about on their beds as boys do, they ex- 
changed tunics and that Gaston's tunic, in which was the purse 
with the powder, fell on his brother's bed. Yvain, who was 
very sharp, felt the powder in the purse and said to Gaston: 
"What is this thing you are always wearing on your chest?" 

' Gaston was not at all pleased to be asked this and he said : 
" Give me back my tunic, Yvain. It's nothing to do with you." 

' Yvain threw his tunic back to him. Gaston put it on, and 
on that day he was much more thoughtful than he had been 
before. Three days later it so happened - as though God was 
working to protect the Count of Foix - that Gaston lost his 
temper with Yvain over a game of tennis and slapped his face. 
The young man was offended and angry and went in tears to 
his father's room, where he found him just after he had heard 
mass. When the Count saw him in tears, he asked him: 
"Yvain, what is the matter with you?" 


BOOK THREE (1386-8) 

*"By God, sir," said Yvain, "Gaston has thrashed me, but 
he deserves to be thrashed as much as I do, and more." 

'"Wliy is that?" asked the Count, immediately growing 
suspicious, for he was quick to imagine harm. 

*"Well, sir, ever since he came back from Navarre he has 
been wearing a little purse stuffed full of powder on his chest. 
I don't know what it is or what he means to do with it, except 
that he has told me once or twice that his mother will pretty 
soon be on better terms with you than she ever was." 

*"Ha!" said the Count. "That's enough. And take care not 
to breathe a word of what you have told me to anyone else." 

'"Certainly not, sir," said the young man. 

* The Count of Foix reflected deeply and made no move un- 
til dinner-time, when he washed and sat down at table in his 
hall as on other days. Gaston was accustomed to serve him 
with all his dishes and to taste his food. As soon as he had 
placed the first dish before the Count and had done what he 
had to do, the Count looked at his son and saw the strings of 
the purse against his tunic. His blood boiled and he said : 

'"Gaston, come nearer. I have something to say in your 

' The young man came up to the table. The Count gripped 
him by the chest and undid his tunic, then took a knife and 
cut the strings of the purse and held it in his hand. Then he 
said to his son: 

'"What is in this purse?" 

* The young man was taken completely aback and answered 
not a word. He grew pale with fear and bewilderment and 
began to tremble violently, for he felt that he had done wrong. 
The Count of Foix opened the purse and sprinkled some of 
the powder on a slice of bread, then whistled up a greyhound 
which he had near him and gave it the bread to eat. No sooner 
had the dog taken one bite than it rolled on its back and died. 
When the Count saw this happening he was furious - and no 
wonder. He got up from the table and took his knife and was 
about to stab his son. He would certainly have killed him, 
but knights and squires sprang up in front of him, saying: 



*"For God's sake, my lord, do not act hastily. Find out 
more about the matter before you harm your son." 

'The first words that the Count spoke were in his native 
Gascon : 

'"Zp, Gaston, traitour, for your sake and to increase the in- 
heritance which was to come to you, I have had war and 
hatred with the King of France, with the King of England, 
with the King of Spain, with the King of Navarre and the 
King of Aragon, and I have held out and struck back at them, 
and now you want to murder me. There is some evil thing in 
your nature. Now you shall die by this knife." 

' He moved away from the table with the knife in his hand, 
intending to kill him on the spot. But knights and squires 
flung themselves weeping on their knees before him, and 
cried : 

'"Ah, my lord, in God's name, do not kill Gaston. You 
have no other heir. Put him under guard and inquire into the 
matter. Perhaps he did not know what he was carrying and is 
quite innocent of this crime." 

'"Quickly then," said the Count. "Put him in the tower, 
and let those who guard him be accountable for him." 

' The young lord was put in the tower of the castle. The 
Count seized a number of those who served his son, but he 
did not get them all, for several escaped. One of them is today 
Bishop of Lescar, near Pau, outside the domain, who was 
under suspicion, as were several others still alive. But as many 
as fifteen were put to death very horribly, and the reason he 
gave was that they must have known his son's secrets and they 
ought to have warned him about the purse in Gaston's tunic. 
They had not done so and therefore several squires died hor- 
ribly, which was a pitiable thing. In all Gascony there were 
none so fine, so handsome or so well turned-out as they, for 
the Count of Foix has always been served by a brilliant re- 

' This matter affected the Count of Foix very deeply and he 
showed it. One day he summoned to Orthez all the nobles 
and prelates of Foix and Beam, with all the notables of those 


BOOK THREE (1386-8) 

two domains. When they were assembled, he explained why 
he had sent for them and told them that he had surprised his 

son in so black a crime that he intended to pi i it- him tn (^ c^th 
They answered liim as one man, saying: "My lord, withalT 
respect, we do not want Gaston to die. He is your heir, and 
you have no other." 

'When the Count heard his people begging for his son's 
life, he became a little more moderate. He thought that he 
would punish him with a few months' imprisonment and 
then send him away on a journey for two or three years until 
he had forgotten his anger and the young man, having grown 
older, had become wiser and more discreet. So he dismissed 
his people. But those of the County of Foix would not leave 
Orthez until the Count had promised them that Gaston should 
not die, for they loved the young man greatly. He gave them 
his word, but said that he would keep him in prison for a cer- 
tain time. On receiving this promise they all went away and 
Gaston remained a prisoner at Orthez. 

* News of these happenings spread far and wide and came 
to the Pope at Avignon. He immediately dispatched the Car- 
dinal of Amiens to Beam, with the mission of settling the 
affair by placating the Count of Foix and having his son re- 
leased. But the Cardinal went about his business so slowly 
that he had got no farther than Beziers when news reached 
him that he was not needed in Beam, since the Count's son, 
Gaston, was dead. As I have told you this much, I will also 
tell you how he died. 

* The Count had him kept in a room in the tower at Orthez 
where there was little light, and there he remained for ten days. 
He ate and drank little, although enough food and drink were 
brought to him every day. But when he got his meals, he 
pushed them on one side and would not look at them. It was 
surprising that he was able to live so long, for several reasons. 
The Count kept him shut up with no guard in the room to 
keep him company, or to comfort and advise him, and the 
young man had only the clothes he stood up in when he was 
first thrown in there. So he grew melancholy and fretted 
excessively, for he had not been brought up to that. He 



cursed the hour when he was born if he was to end in that 

' On the day of his death, the people who served his meals 
took the food in and said: "Gaston, here is some food for 
you." Gaston took no notice of it and said: "Put it over 
there." The man who was carrying it looked round the room 
and saw all the food he had brought on the previous 
days. He fastened the door again and went to the Count of 
Foix and said: "For the love of God, my lord, be careful 
about your son. He is starving in his prison. I do not think 
he has eaten since he was put in there, for I have seen all the 
dishes which have been taken to him standing on one side 

'On hearing this, the Count grew very angry and left his 
room without a word to go to the tower. As ill luck would 
have it, he was holding a little knife with which he pared his 
nails. He had the prison door opened and wxnt up to his son, 
holding the knife by the blade near the point - so near it, in- 
deed, that the part which stuck out beyond his fingers was no 
longer than the thickness of a Tours sliilling. By an evil 
chance, when he thrust that tiny point against his son's throat, 
saying: "Ha, traitor, why don't you eat?" he wounded him 
in some vein. 

* The Count came away immediately, without saying or do- 
ing anything more, and went back to his room. The young 
man's blood had run cold with fear at the sight of his father, 
and in addition he was weak with fasting when he saw or felt 
the point of the knife pricking his throat. Lightly though it 
did so, it was in a vein. He turned his face away and died 
there and then. 

' The Count had hardly got back to his room when a mes- 
sage came from the man who served the food: 

'"My lord, Gaston is dead." 

'"Dead?" said the Count. 

'"As God is my witness, sir, he is." 

'The Count would not believe that it was true. He sent a 
knight who was with liim to find out. The knight went to the 
tower and came back to say that he really was dead. Then the 


BOOK THREE (1386-8) 

Count of Foix was distressed beyond measure. He grieved 
deeply for his son and said: 

'"Ah, Gaston, what a miserable business this is! It was an 
evil day for you and for me when you went to see your mother 
in Navarre. Never again shall I know complete happiness." 

' He sent for his barber and had his head shaved to the skin. 
He humbled himself and put on black, and ordered all his 
household to do the same. The young man's body was carried 
with weeping and lamentations to the Minorite Friars at 
Orthez, and there it was buried. 

' That is the true account of the death of Gaston of Foix.Jt_ 
was his father who actually killed him, but his real a^& assin 
was the King of Navarre. ' 


^he Haunting of Sir ^^eter 

When I heard the squire of Beam's account of the death of 
young Gaston, I felt deeply sorry for the sake of the gallant 
Count, his father, whom I had found to be a lord with such 
admirable quaUties, so noble, so open-handed and so chi- 
valrous ; and also for the sake of the country, which remained 
very unsettled for lack of an heir. Presently I took leave of the 
squire, after thanking him for his kindness in telling me the 
story. I often saw him again in the Foix household and we had 
many conversations together. One day I asked him whether 
Sir Peter of Beam, the Count's bastard broth er, who struck 

me as a knight of great r h^^prl-er ^T-c^«; ^ wealthy rp^p anH 

married . He answered: 

'Yes, he is married, but neither his wife nor his children 
live with him.' 

'Why not?' I asked. 

'I will tell you,' said the squire. 'Sir Peter of Beam has a 
habit when he is asleep at night of getting up and arming him- 
self. Unless great care is taken to prevent him, he draws his 
sword and fights, he does not know with whom. His cham- 
berlains and servants, who sleep in his room and look after 
him, get up when they see or hear him, and wake him up. 
They tell him what he is doing and he says that he knows 
nothing about it and that they are lying. There was a time 
when they left no sword or other weapons in his room. But 
when he got up and could not find them, he raised such a rar- 
ing and a roaring that it sounded as if all the devils of hell 
were in there with him. So they found it better to leave his 
weapons with him, for then he soon grows tired of arming 
and disarming and goes back quietly to bed.' 

'And does he possess great estates through his wife?' I 

'By God he does,' said the squire. 'But the lady, who 


BOOK THREE (1386-8) 

brought him the inheritance, gets most of the income. Sir 
Peter of Beam gets only a quarter/ 

'And where does the lady live ? ' 

* She lives in Castile with the present King, her cousin. Her 
father was the Count of Biscay. He was the first cousin of that 
King Peter who ruled so harshly, and who put him to death 
and also tried to get this lady into his power, and he seized all 
her land. As long as he was alive, the lady had nothing. On 
her father's death, people had come to this lady, who has the 
title of Countess of Biscay, and had said to her: 

'"Escape, my lady, for if King Peter gets you, he will have 
you killed or put in prison. He is very angry with you because 
you seem to have been saying that he had the Queen his wife 
murdered in her bed (she who was the sister of the Duke of 
Bourbon and of the Queen of France). More faith is put in 
your word than in anyone else's, for you were a lady of her 

'Filled with fear, the Countess Florence of Biscay left her 
home with a small retinue - for it is natural for any man or 
woman to flee from death - and travelled through the Basque 
country. After great difficulties she arrived here and told her 
whole story to my lord. The Count, who is gentle and kindly 
to all ladies, took pity on her. He let her stay and lodged her 
with the Lady of Corresse, an important baroness of this 
country, and he provided her with all that she required. His 
brother, Sir Peter, was a young knight at that time, without 
the warlike experience which he now has; he stood high in 
the Count's favour. He and the lady were married, and very 
soon after the marriage she recovered her estate. He has a son 
and a daughter by her, but they are in Castile with the lady, for 
they are still young and the mother does not choose to leave 
them with the father because she has strong claims of her own 
to the greater part of the property.' 

'Holy Mary,' I said to the squire when I heard this, 'and 
what can be the cause of this delusion of Sir Peter of Beam's 
of which you spoke, which makes him afraid to sleep alone in 
a room and, when he is asleep, to get up all by himself and 
lay about him like that? It really is an extraordinary thing.' 



'Well now,' said the squire, 'he has often been asked, but he 
does not know the reason. The first time that anything was 
noticed was the night after he had been out in the woods of 
Biscay hunting an exceptionally big bear. This bear killed 
four of his hounds and wounded several others, so that the 
rest were afraid to go n.ear. Sir Peter drew a Bordeaux sword 
which he was carrying and wxnt up angrily - because of his 
hounds which he saw lying dead - to attack the bear. He 
fought it for a long time at great risk to himself and only got 
the better of it after much difficulty. But in the end he killed it 
and went back to his castle of Languidendon in Biscay, taking 
the bear with him. Everyone was impressed by the size of the 
beast and by the knight's bravery in attacking and over- 
coming it. 

'When his wife, the Countess of Biscay, saw it, she showed 
signs of great distress and fainted. She was carried to, her 
room and remained there very depressed for the rest of that 
day and the whole of the next. She would not say what was 
the matter with her, but on the third day she said to her 
husband : 

'"My lord, I shall never be cured until I have made a pil- 
grimage to St James of Compostella. Give me permission to 
go and to take my son Peter and my daughter Adrienne with 
me. I ask you this as a special favour." 

'Sir Peter agreed readily. The lady set off wuth a large 
escort, taking all her valuables which she had carried in front 
of her, gold, silver and jewels (since she knew very well she 
would not return) but no one paid much attention to this. 
She made her pilgrimage and then took the opportunity of 
visiting her cousin the King of Castile and the Queen. They 
gave her a friendly welcome. She is still there and she refuses 
to return or to send her children back. 

' I told you that o n the very night after Sir Peter ha d hjinfp/j 
a nd killed the bear, that delusion rame to him A yh jjr he, wm 
asl eep in his bed. And people say that tl ^^ hr\y kngyr whflt 
won1d happen as ,snon ^s s he saw the jiear. because her father 
hiad once hunted the same beast and had heard a voice saying 
Jthough there was no person in sight) : 


BOOK THREE (1586-8) 

'"You hunt me although I mean you no harm. You will 
come to an evil end." 

'When she saw the bear, the lady remembered how her 
father had related this, and she recalled how King Peter had 
had him beheaded without cause. That was the reason why 
she fainted and why she will never love her husband, but 
firmly maintains that he will suffer some terrible injury before 
he dies and that what has happened to him so far is nothing 
beside what is to come. 

'Now I have told you about Sir Peter of Beam, as you 
asked me,' said the squire, 'and the tale is quite true, for that 
is how it was and that was what happened. What do you think 
of it?' 

The strange story had made me very thoughtful and I re- 

' I can quite believe it, and it may well be so. We read in 
boo'H that in the old d ays gods and goddesses changed n juen 
info hpasf^R and hi rds at Wil l, and so did women. So it may be 
that that bear had been a knight huntmg m the forests of Bis- 
cay. Perhaps he angered some god or goddess in his time and 
was changed into the shape of a bear and was working out his 
punishment, just as Actaeon was changed into a stag.' 

' Actaeon ? ' said the squire. ' Good Master Froissart, tell me 
that tale, will you?' 

'With pleasure,' I said. 'We learn from the old books that 
Actaeon was a skilful, gallant and handsome knight who loved 
hounds above all other pleasures. It happened one day that he 
was hunting in the woods of Thessaly and started an extra- 
ordinarily fine stag which he hunted all day, losing sight of all 
his men and of his hounds too. He was absorbed in pursuing 
the stag and he followed its tracks until he came to a wood or 
a kind of meadow fringed with tall trees, in the middle of 
which was a delightful little pool. In this pool Diana, the 
goddess of chastity, was bathing to cool herself, with her 
maidens round her. The knight came charging down on them 
before he even knew they were there; he had gone too far to 
retreat. Startled and embarrassed by his appearance, the 



maidens immediately gathered round their mistress to conceal 
her, for she was ashamed to be found naked. But she rose up 
above them all, looked at the knight, and said : 

'"Actaeon, whoever sent you here was no friend of yours. 
I will not have you boast, when you are away from this place, 
that you have seen me or my maidens naked. For this offence 
you must be punished. My will is that you should take on the 
likeness and form of the stag which you have been hunting 

'Actaeon was immediately changed into a stag, whose 
nature is to love hounds. A similar thing may have happened 
to the bear you told me about, and possibly the lady knows 
more about it, or knew more than she said at the time. If so, 
she ought not to be blamed.' 

The squire replied: 'That may be so.' 

With that, we ended our talk. 


'\R^imscences of the Mascot de Mauleon^ 

Froissar t remains at Orfhefifor Christmas, which the Count cele- 
brates with full religious observances and other festivities. Besides his 
own vassals numerous knights and squires from neighbouring terri- 
tories come to Orthe^ to take part in the celebrations and to pay their 

Among those who came to the Count's court I met a Gas- 
con squire called the Bascot de Mauleon, a man of about fifty- 
five with the appearance of a bold and experienced soldier. 
He arrived with plenty of followers and baggage at the hostelry 
where I was staying at Orthez - at the sign of the Moon, kept 
by Ernauton du Pin, He had as many pack-horses with him 
as any great baron, and he and his people took their meals off 
silver plate. When I heard his name and saw how warmly he 
was welcomed by the Count and everyone else, I asked Sir 
Espan de Lyon : ' Isn't that the squire who gave up the Castle of 
Tuzaguet ^ when the Duke of Anjou was besieging Mauvezin ? ' 

* Yes,' he said. 'He's a good soldier in these days and a great 

On hearing this I made friends with him, since he was in 
the same hostelry, through a Gascon cousin of his with whom 
I was on very good terms, who was the captain of Carlat in 
Auvergne and was called Ernauton and also the Bourc de 
Caupenne. In the way one does start talking of arms and war- 
fare, sitting at the fire one night after supper and waiting for 
midnight to come when the Count had his supper, this cousin 
set him talking about his past life and the battles he had 
fought in his time for better or worse, which he remembered 
very clearly. 

I. Froissart has previously related how the Bascot surrendered the 
castle, a centre of brigandage, to the French forces in return for a safe- 
conduct to another castle. The Bascot refers to it later in recounting his 
life. See p. 289 below. 



The Bascot asked me: 'Sir John, haven't you got what I'm 
going to tell you in your chronicle ? ' 

'I don't know whether I have or not,' I said. 'Give me 
your account of it, for I am very interested to hear you talk of 
deeds of arms. I can't remember everything in it, and also there 
are things of which I may not have been informed.' 

'True,' said the squire. Whereupon he took up his tale and 
said this : 

'The first time I fought in battle was under the Captal de 
Buch at Poitiers, and by good luck I took three prisoners on 
that day, a knight and two squires, who brought me in three 
thousand francs between them.. The next year I was in Prussia 
with the Count of Foix and his cousin the Captal, whose troop 
I still belonged to. On our way back through Meaux in Brie 
we came upon the Duchess of Normandy, the Duchess of 
Orleans and many other ladies, gentlefolk, whom the Jacks 
had surrounded in the market-place, and would have raped 
if God had not sent us there. ^ It was well within their power, 
for there were over ten thousand of them and the ladies were 
defenceless. We delivered them from that danger and killed 
more than six thousand of the Jacks. They never rebelled 

'At that time there was a truce between the Kings of France 
and England, but the King of Navarre was making war on 
his own account against the Regent of France. The Count of 
Foix went back to his domains, but my master the Captal re- 
mained with the King of Navarre and drew his pay from him. 
We went, with others who were helping us, into the kingdom 
of France and especially into Picardy, where we started a 
fierce campaign and took many towns and castles in the bish- 
oprics of Beauvais and Amiens. We became masters of the 
farmlands and the rivers and we and our friends won a great 
deal of wealth. 

*When the truce between France and England came to an 

end, the King of Navarre stopped his war because peace was 

made between the Regent and him. Then the King of England 

crossed the sea with a great army and laid siege to Rheims. 

I. See above, pp. 153-5. 


BOOK THREE (1386-8) 

He sent for my master the Captal, who was then at Clermont 
in Beauvaisis campaigning in support of him. We went to join 
the King and his sons.' 

The squire stopped and said to me: 'But I expect you 
have all that, and how the King of England went on and 
reached Chartres, and how peace was made between the two 
kings ? ' 

'True,' I said, 'I've got it all, and you're describing things 
exactly as they happened.' 

The Bascot de Mauleon went on : 

' When this peace was concluded, one of its conditions was 
that all fighting-men and companions-in-arms must clear out 
of the forts and castles they held. So large numbers of poor 
companions trained in war came out and collected together. 
Some of the leaders held a conference about where they should 
go and they said that, though the kings had made peace, they 
had to live somehow. They went to Burgundy and they had 
captains of all nationalities, English, Gascons, Spaniards, 
Navarrese, Germans, Scots and men from every country, and 
I was there as a captain. There were more than twelve 
thousand of us in Burgundy and along the Loire, counting 

'And I tell you that in that assembly there were three or 
four thousand really fine soldiers, as trained and skilled in war 
as any man could be, wonderful men at planning a battle and 
seizing the advantage, at scaling and assaulting towns and 
castles, as expert and experienced as you could ask for - and 
didn't we show it at the battle of Brignais, when we thrashed 
the Constable of France and the Count of Forez with a good 
two thousand lances of knights and squires. 

'That battle was a godsend to the companions, for they 
were very hard up. They all grew rich on good prisoners and 
the towns and fortresses they took in the archbishopric of 
Lyons and down the Rhone. The crowning touch to the 
campaign was the capture of Pont-Saint-Esprit, for then they 
made war on the Pope and the Cardinals and really made them 
squeal. They could not get rid of them, and never would have 
done until everything had been destroyed if they had not 



thought of a way out. They sent to Lombardy to invite the 
Marquis of Montferrat, who was at war with the Lord of 
Milan. When he reached Avignon the Pope and cardinals 
made an agreement with him and he talked to the English, 
Gascon and German captains. On payment of sixty thousand 
francs by the Pope and the cardinals, several captains of com- 
panies, such as Sir John Hawkwood, a fine English knight, 
Sir Robert Briquet, Carsuelle, Naudon of Bageran, the Bourc 
of Breteuil, the Bourc Camus, the Bourc of Lesparre, Bataille, 
and several others gave up Pont-Saint-Esprit and went off to 
Lombardy, taking three-fifths of all the men with them. But 
we stayed behind, Sir Seguin de Badefol, Sir Jean Jouel, Sir 
Jacques Planchin, Lamit, Sir John Aimery, the Bourc of 
Perigord, Espiote, Louis Roubaut, Limosin, Jacques Tiriel, 
myself and several others. We had Anse, Saint-Clement, 
L'Arbresle, La Terrasse, Brignais, Mont-Saint-Denis, 
L'Hopital-sous-Rochefort and more than sixty forts in the 
Maconnais, in Forez, Velay, Lower Burgundy and on the 
Loire, and we held the whole country to ransom. They 
couldn't get rid of us, either by paying us good money or 

' We took La Charite in a night attack and held it for a year 
and a half and everything was ours along the Loire as far as 
Le Puy-en- Velay, for Sir Seguin de Badefol had left Anse and 
was holding Brioude in Auvergne, where he made a hundred 
thousand francs in gains from the country round, and down 
the Loire as far as Orleans, and also all along the River Allier. 
Even the Archpriest,^ who commanded in Nevers and was a 
loyal Frenchman at the time, could do nothing about it, except 
through knowing the companions - on account of which we 
did do something for him when he asked us to. The Arch- 
priest did a very good thing in Nivernais when he fortified 
the city of Nevers. Otherwise it would have been taken and 
plundered many times, because we held about tw^enty-seven 
towns and castles in the district round it and there was not a 
knight or squire or man of means who dared to venture out 
unless he had bought one of our safe-conducts. We were 

1. Regnault de Cervoles, previously a captain of freebooters himself. 


BOOK THREE (1386-8) 

carrying on that particular war with the knowledge of the 
King of Navarre, and in his name. 

'Then came the battle of Cocherel,' at which the Captal was 
in command for the King of Navarre. A good many knights 
and squires from our district went to join him to get some 
better fighting. Sir Jacques Planchin and Sir Jean Jouel took 
two hundred lances to serve him. At that time I held a castle 
called Le Bee d'Allier, fairly near to La Charite as you go to- 
wards the Bourbonnais. I had forty lances under my com- 
mand and I was making very good gains just then in the 
Moulins district and round Saint-Pour^ain and Saint-Pierre- 
le-Moutier. But when I heard that my master the Captal was 
assembling a big force in the Cotentin, I badly wanted to see 
him again and left my fortress with twelve lances, joining Sir 
Jean Joucl's and Sir Jacques Planchin's company. We reached 
the Captal safely wdthout any encounters on the way. I expect 
you have all the facts about the battle in your chronicle.' 

'Yes,' I said. 'The Captal was taken prisoner and Sir Jean 
Jouel and Sir Jacques Planchin were killed.' 

'That's right,' said the Bascot de Mauleon. 'I was taken 
prisoner there, but I was very lucky. I was captured by a 
cousin of mine, who w^as also the cousin of my cousin the 
Bourc de Caupenne, who's sitting here now. He w^as a fellow 
called Bernard de Terride. He was killed later in Portugal, in 
the Juberot affair. 2 Bernard, who was then serving under Sir 
Aymon de Pommiers, ransomed me on the field for a thou- 
sand francs and gave me a safe-conduct back to my castle at 
Lc Bee d'Allier. As soon as I got there, I called one of my men, 
counted out the thousand francs and gave them him. He took 
the money to Paris, and brought me back the discharge and 
the receipt. 

'In that same year Sir John Aimery, an English knight 
and the greatest captain we had, was out marauding, and w'as 

1 . Between a French army commanded by Du Gucsclin and the King of 
Navarre's forces led, as Froissart says, by the Captal de Buch (May 1364). 

2. The Battle of Aljubarrota, in which the Portuguese defeated the 
Spanish (1385). 



following the bank of the Loire to reach La Charite. He fell 
into an ambush laid by the Lords of Rougement and Voude- 
aay and the Archpriest's men. They were too strong for him 
and beat him, and he was ransomed for thirty thousand francs, 
which he paid in cash. He was furious at his capture and the 
loss, and swore he would not return to his castle until he had 
got his own back. He assembled a large number of compan- 
ions, and went to La Charite-sur-Loire, where he asked the 
captains, Lamit, Carsuelle, the Bourc of Perigord and myself, 
who was there on pleasure, if we were wilUng to go on a raid 
with him. We asked him where to. "This is it," he said. 
"We'll cross the Loire at Port Saint-Thibaut and go and cap- 
ture and plunder the town and castle of Sancerre. I've sworn 
an oath not to go back to any fortress of mine until I've had a 
sight of the Sancerre boys.^ If we could get the garrison and 
the boys inside, Jean, Louis and Robert, we should recover 
our losses and be sitting on top of the whole country. We 
could do it quite easily, because they are not expecting us, and 
then we're doing ourselves no good by sitting here." 

'"That's true," we said. 

'We all agreed to his plan and began our preparations at 

*Now it happened,' the Bascot de Mauleon went on, 'that 
the garrison of Sancerre got to know of our scheme. At that 
time they had a captain, a fine soldier called Guichard Auber- 
geon who was a native of Lower Burgundy and who made a 
splendid job of guarding the town and castle of Sancerre, with 
the young lords inside it, who were all knights by then. This 
Guichard had a brother who was a monk in the Abbey of 
Saint-Thibaut, quite near Sancerre. The monk was sent by his 
brother to La Charite-sur-Loire to deliver some protection- 
money owed by some neighbouring towns. No one took 
much notice of him and somehow he found out the whole of 
our plan, with all the names of the captains of the forts round 
La Charite and the strength of their contingents, and also the 

I. The Count of Sancerre and his two brothers, no doubt good for 
valuable ransoms. 


BOOK THREE (1586-8) 

time when we were going to cross the river at Port Saint- 
Thibaut and the way we intended to do it. Thereupon he went 
back and told his brother. 

'The Sanccrre boys, the Count and his brothers, began 
their preparations against us as quickly as they could and sent 
word to the knights and squires of Berry and the Bourbonnais 
and the captains of the garrisons around, until they had at 
least four hundred lances of first-class men. They set up a 
well-laid ambush of two hundred lances in a wood outside 

*We left La Charite at sunset and rode in order at a brisk 
pace as far as Pouilly. We had had a lot of boats brought to- 
gether in the port down below to take ourselves and our 
horses across. So we crossed the Loire as planned and by 
about midnight we were all on the other side with our horses. 
Because it would soon be light, we left a hundred lances to 
guard the horses and the boats, while the rest of us went on 
and marched right past the ambush, which let us go without 
moving a finger. 

' When we were about three-quarters of a mile past it, they 
came out and fell upon our men on the river-bank. They got 
in among them and thrashed them thoroughly, killing or cap- 
turing them all and taking the horses and boats as well. Then 
they got on our horses and spurred them forw^ard and reached 
the town as soon as we did. They shouted: "Our Lady! 
Sancerre!" because the Count was there with his men and it 
was his brothers who had laid the ambush. We were properly 
hemmed in and hardly knew which way to face. There was a 
great set-to with lances, because, as soon as the mounted men 
reached us, they got off the horses and attacked us fiercely. 
What hampered us most was that we could not spread out, 
because we were going along a road with tall hedges and 
vines on both sides of it. Some of their men who knew the 
country and this road well had cUmbed up the vine slopes 
with their servants and were throwing stones at us from 
abovCj which bruised us and threw us into disorder. We could 
not retreat, yet it was very difficult to advance towards the 
town because it lies on a steep hill. 



' So they gave us a thorough mauUng and our commander- 
n-chief, Sir John Aimery, was run right through the body by 
juichard x\ubergeon. Guichard made him his prisoner and 
lid all he could to save him. He took him to a hostelry in the 
own and had him laid on a bed, and said to the host: " Take 
^ood care of this prisoner and make sure his wound is properly 
;een to. If he stays alive, he's big enough to pay me twenty 
housand francs." 

'After this, Guichard left his prisoner and returned to the 
Dattle, where he went on fighting beside the others. There 
ilso, in the company of the Sancerre boys, were Sir Guichard 
Dauphin, the Lord of Talus, the Lord of Mornay, Sir Gerard 
md Sir Guillaume de Bourbon, the Lord of Couzan, the Lord 
)f La Pierre, the Lord of La Palice, the Lord of Nan9ay, Sir 
Louis de La Croise, the Lord of La Frete and others who 
lad joined them for the love of arms and to help defend the 

'I can tell you it was a hard and nasty battle, and we held 
Dut for as long as we could, so that there were a lot of killed and 
cv'ounded on both sides. By the look of them they preferred 
:o get us alive rather than dead. Finally, we were all captured, 
Carsuelle, Lamit, Naudon of Perigord, Espiote, the Bourc of 
Lesparre, Angerot de Lamongis, Philippe de Roie, Pierre de 
Curton, Lepesat de Pamiers, the Bourc of Ornesan and all our 
captains from round about. We were taken to the castle of 
Sancerre and greeted with shouts of joy. Never in the king- 
dom of France have the Free Companions had such a set- 
back as we suffered then. Still, Guichard Aubergeon lost his 
prisoner, for the man who was looking after him, through 
sheer viciousness and carelessness, let him bleed so much that 
he died. That was the end of Sir John Aimery. 

'As a result of the defeat at Sancerre, La Charite-sur-Loire 
and all the garrisons round it surrendered to the French, upon 
which all of us were set free and given safe-conducts out of 
France to go wherever we pleased. Very fortunately for us an 
expedition was mounted in that same year by Sir Bertrand 
du Guesclin, the Lord of Beaujeu, Sir Arnoul d'Audrehem 


BOOK THREE (1386-8) 

and the Count of La Marche to go to Spain in support of 
King Henry against his brother, Don Pedro. But before that, 
I was in Brittany at the battle of Auray under Sir Hugh Cal- 
veley. I recovered some of my losses, for we won that battle 
and I had some good prisoners who earned me two thousand 
francs. So I went to Spain under Sir Hugh Calveley with a 
command of ten lances and we drove King Peter out. Later 
on, when there was an alliance between King Peter and the 
Prince of Wales and he wished to put him back on the throne 
of Castile - which he did - I was there, again in Sir Hugh 
Calveley's company, and I returned to Aquitaine with him. 

' Then war was started again between the King of France 
and the Prince. We were kept very busy because they fought 
us really hard and many English and Gascon captains were 
killed, though I stayed alive, thank God. First, Sir Robert 
Briquet was killed in Orleanais at a place called Olivet be- 
tween Blois and the domains of the Duke of Orleans. He and 
his whole company were wiped out by a squire from Hain- 
ault, a tough fighting-man and a fine captain, called Alart de 
Donstienne, who bore the arms of Barbancon because he came 
of noble family. He was governor of Blois at the time and in 
command of the whole district for my lords Louis, Jean and 
Guy de Blois. Well, he happened to meet Sir Robert Briquet 
and Sir Robert Cheney at Olivet. He thrashed them thoroughly 
and they were both killed, with all their men. Not a single 
prisoner was taken. 

' Some time after that, at the battle of Niort in Saintonge, 
Carsuelle was beaten and killed by Sir Bertrand du Guesclin, 
and at least seven hundred English all died in that affair. 
Then at Sainte-Severe the English captains Richard Giles and 
Richard Holme were also killed. I know of very few, except 
myself, who were not killed somewhere in battle. But I have 
always held the frontier and fought for the King of England, 
for my family estate lies in the Bordeaux district. Sometimes I 
have been so thoroughly down that I hadn't even a horse to 
ride, and at other times fairly rich, as luck came and went. 
Once Raymonnet de I'Epee and I were companions-in-arms 
and we held three castles near Toulouse on the frontier of 



Bigorre, the castle of Mauvezin, the castle of Tuzaguet and 
the castle of Lutilhous. They yielded us great gains for a time. 
Then the Duke of Anjou came and turned us out by force. 
Raymonnet de I'Epee was captured and went over to the 
French, but I remained a loyal Englishman, and shall be as 
long as I live. 

* Now, after I had lost the castle of Tuzaguet and been taken 
to Castelculier and the Duke of Anjou had withdrawn to 
France,^ I decided that I must do something to bring me in 
some money, if I was not to go on living in poverty. So I sent 
some men to prospect the town and castle of Thurie, near 
Albi, which castle has since brought me in, through plunder, 
protection-money and various strokes of luck which I've 
had, one hundred thousand francs. Let me tell you how I 
got it. 

' Outside the place there is an excellent spring, to which the 
women from the town used to come every morning with 
their pitchers and buckets to draw water and carry it back on 
their heads. I determined to have the place and took fifty com- 
panions from the garrison of Castelculier, and we rode a whole 
day through woods and heathland. At about midnight I placed 
the men in ambush near the town and went on myself with 
five others dressed as women, with pitchers in our hands. We 
reached a meadow outside the town and hid ourselves in a 
haystack, for it was about midsummer and they had just cut 
the hay. When it was time for the gate to be opened and the 
women began coming out to the spring, all of us took our 
pitchers, filled them and started towards the town, covering 
our faces with kerchiefs. No one would have recognized us. 
The women we met on the way said : " Holy Virgin, how early 
you've got up ! " We disguised our voices and answered in 
their patois: "Yes, haven't we?" and so went past them and 
reached the gate. We found no one there to guard it except a 
cobbler who was setting up his lasts and rivets. One of us blew 
a horn to bring up the others who were waiting in ambush. 
The cobbler was paying no attention to us, but when he heard 
I. See above, p. 280. 

BOOK THREE (1586-8) 

the horn he asked us: "Hi, girls, who was that blowing a 
horn?" One of us answered: "It's a priest going out for a 
ride. I don't know if it's the vicar or the town chaplain.'* 
"Oh yes," he said, ' 'it's Master Francis, the parish priest. He's 
very fond of going out in the morning after hares." 

'Immediately after this the rest of us arrived and we entered 
the town, where we found not a man ready to put hand to 
sword in its defence. 

'That was how I captured the town and castle of Thurie, 
which has brought me in greater profits and income yearly - 
and any day when it happened to be a good moment - than 
the castle and all the dependencies of this place would fetch 
if they were sold at their best price. But now I don't know 
what I ought to do with it. I am negotiating with the Count of 
Armagnac and the Dauphin of Auvergne who have been given 
special powers by the King of France to buy towns and for- 
tresses from companions who hold them in Auvergne, 
Rouergue, Quercy, Limosin, Perigord, the Albigeois and the 
Agenais, and from any who are fighting or have fought in the 
King of England's name. Several have already given up their 
castles and gone. But I don't know whether I shall give mine 
up or not.' 

At this point the Bourc de Caupenne broke in and said: 
'You are right there, cousin. It's the same with my castle of 
Carlat in Auvergne. That's why I've come to Orthez to find 
out more about it at the Count's court. Lord Louis de San- 
cerre, Marshal of France, should be here soon. He's stuck at 
Tarbes at the moment, or so I hear from people who've seen 
him there.' 

Thereupon they called for wine. It was brought, and we 
drank, and then the Bascot de Mauleon said to me: 'Well, Sir 
John, what do you say? Have I given you a good account of 
my life? I have had quite a lot more adventures than I told 
you of, but I can't and won't talk about them all.' 

'Indeed, sir,' I said, 'it was well worth hearing.' 

I set him talking again and asked him about Louis Roubaut, 
a great fighting squire and captain of men whom I had once 



seen in Avignon looking very prosperous. What had hap- 
pened to him? 

'I will tell you,' said the Bascot. 'A long time ago, after 
Sir Seguin de Badefol had held Brioude in Velay, thirty miles 
from Le Puy, and had harassed the country round and won 
enough from it, he went back to Gascony and gave Brioude 
and Anse on the Saone to Louis Roubaut and a companion of 
his called Limosin. At the time I am speaking of, the country 
was so bruised and battered and so full of companions in every 
place that hardly anyone dared to go out-of-doors. Now, from 
Brioude to Anse the distance is over seventy-five miles, all 
over mountainous country. But when Louis Roubaut wished 
to go from one to the other, he thought nothing of it, because 
they held several castles in the County of Forez and elsewhere 
in which they could break the journey. The gentry of Au- 
vergne, Forez and Velay were so worn down by the war, or 
else were prisoners or paying ransoms, that they were afraid 
to take up arms against them. There were no great lords in 
France to lead forces into the country districts, for the King 
was young and had to attend to too many different parts of his 
kingdom. There were Companies everywhere and troops 
roving about or settling on the country and no one could get 
rid of them. The great lords were hostages in England ^ and 
meanwhile their people and their country were being pillaged 
and ruined and they could do nothing about it because their 
men had no stomach for fighting or even for defending them- 

'Well, Louis Roubaut and Limosin, who were brothers- 
in-arms, became bitter enemies, for this reason: Louis Rou- 
baut had a very beautiful woman at Brioude as his mistress, 
and he loved her passionately. During his journeys from 
Brioude to Anse, he used to entrust her to his great friend 
Limosin, in whom he had complete faith. Limosin looked after 
the good lady so well that he got all he wanted from her, until 
Louis Roubaut found out everything about it. The discovery 

I. This was soon after the death of King John (1364), when many 
French nobles were still kept in England as hostages for the ransoms 
exacted after Poitiers. 


BOOK THREE (1386-8) 

filled him with such hatred for his friend that, so as to shame 
him more, he told his servants to seize him and had him 
stripped to his breeches and flogged through the town. 
The trumpet was sounded ahead of him and at each cross- 
roads his misdeed was announced; then he was declared 
banished from the town as a traitor and thrown out just as 
he was, with a cheap tunic to cover his back. That was 
what Louis Roubaut did to Limosin, and Limosin took it 
deeply to heart and said he w^ould get his revenge when he 

'In Limosin's prosperous days, when he used to go maraud- 
ing between Brioude and Anse and also plundering the dis- 
trict of Velay, he had always kept well clear of the lands of the 
Lord of La Voulte^ a baron living near the Rhone, because he 
had served him as a boy. He thought he would go back into 
his service and w^ould ask his pardon and beg him to make his 
peace for him in France, promising to be a good and loyal 
Frenchman for ever after. He arrived at La Voulte - he knew the 
way well enough - and went to an inn, for he was travelling 
on foot. When he knew that it was the right time, he went up 
to the lord's castle. They would not let him in, but he told 
some sort of story and pleaded so hard that the porter allowed 
him to stand in the gateway, forbidding him to come in any 
farther without orders. He obeyed readily. 

' In the evening the Lord of La Voulte took a stroll in the 
courtyard and came to the gate. Limosin immediately flung 
himself on his knees before him and said: "My lord, don't you 
recognize me?" "Devil take it," said the lord of the castle, 
"I don't." But after he had had a good look at him, he said: 
" You're very like Limosin who used to be my servant." " Yes, 
my lord," said the other, "I am Limosin, and your servant 

' Then he begged his forgiveness for all that had happened 
in the past and told his whole story, describing how Louis 
Roubaut had ill-treated him. At the end of it, the Lord of La 
Voulte said: "Limosin, if things are as you say and you wish 
to be a good and loyal Frenchman, I will make your peace 
with everyone." "My lord, I promise you," he answered, "I 



will do more good to the kingdom of France than I ever did it 
harm." "Well, we'll see," said the Lord of La Voulte. 

' The lord kept him in the castle without allowing him to go 
out until he had made his peace with everyone round. When 
he could ride again as an honourable man, the Lord of La 
Voulte gave him a horse and armour and took him to the 
Seneschal of Velay at Le Puy, and introduced him. He was 
questioned closely about the state of things in Brioude and 
also about Louis Roubaut, and which roads he took when he 
was travelling about. He revealed everything and said: "When 
Louis rides out, he doesn't take more than thirty or forty 
lances with him. As for the roads, I know them all by heart, 
for I've covered them many times, with and without him. If 
you will mount an expedition of men-at-arms, I'll stake my 
head that you'll have him within a fortnight." 

' The nobles took him at his word. Spies were set to work. 
Louis Roubaut was followed and it was found that he had 
gone from Brioude to Anse. When Limosin was sure of this, 
he said to the Lord of La Voulte: "Sir, give your orders, it's 
time now. Louis Roubaut is at Anse and will soon be going 
back. I will take you to the pass which he must go through." 

An at?ihush is laid and l^ouis Roubaut is captured 

'When Limosin saw that Louis Roubaut was caught, he 
showed himself to him and said reproachfully: "Louis, Louis, 
this is where friendship ends. Remember the shame and dis- 
grace that you brought on me at Brioude because of your mis- 
tress. I would not have thought that for a woman, if she was 
willing and I was willing, you would have made me take what 
I did take. If you had done the same thing to me, I should 
never have minded, for two companions-in-arms, such as we 
were then, could surely, at a pinch, have overlooked a 

' On hearing this the lords began to laugh, but Louis did not 
find it funny. 

'After Louis Roubaut's capture the garrison of Brioude sur- 
rendered to the Seneschal of Auvergne, for they were demoral- 
ized by the loss of their captain, and their best men with him. 


BOOK THREE (1386-8) 

The garrisons of Anse and the other fortresses they held in 
Velay and Forez did the same and they were happy to be per- 
mitted to escape with their Uves. Louis Roubaut was taken 
to Annonay and imprisoned there. A written report of his 
capture was sent to the King of France, who was dehghted by 
the news. Quite soon after he was sentenced. I beUeve, by 
what I heard, that he was beheaded at Villeneuve near Avi- 
gnon. So that was the end of Louis Roubaut. May God have 
mercy on his soul! 

'Well, my dear sir,' said the Bascot de Mauleon, 'I've done 
a lot of talking to while away the time. But it's all true.' 

'I'm sure it is,' I told him, 'and many, many thanks. I have 
enjoyed hearing you talk as much as the others and your 
words will not be wasted. If God permits me to return to my 
native country, I shall include the events you have related in 
my chronicles, together with all the other things I have seen 
or found out on my journey. They will naturally have a place 
in the important work of history which the most noble Count 
of Blois has commissioned me to write, so that, with other 
events I have described in the same work and, God willing, 
shall describe in the future, they will always be remembered.' 

On hearing this, the Bourc de Caupenne began speaking 
and would readily, as I could see, have related the life-story 
and adventures of himself and his brother, the Bourc Anglais, 
and the fighting they had seen in Auvergne and elsewhere. 
But he had no time to tell his tale, because the signal was 
sounded at the castle to summon all those down in the town 
who were expected to be present at the Count's supper. The 
two squires had torches lit and we set out together from the 
hostelry on our way up to the castle, as did all the other 
knights and squires who were lodged in the town. 


The Tale of the J^amiliar 

Three years before Yroissarfs visit to Foix, the Portuguese had 
inflicted a crushing defeat on the Castilians at Aljubarrota. A strong 
contingent from Beam had gone to fight for King Juan of Castile 
against their Count" s advice, and the majority of them perished. The 
battle was fought on a Saturday {14 August i^Sj). 

I must tell you a very strange story which was told to me 
in the Count's castle by the same man who informed me about 
the battle of Aljubarrota and all that had happened in that 
campaign. Since I heard this squire's tale, which I will relate 
to you in a moment, I have thought about it a hundred times 
and shall remember it as long as I live. 

'It is absolutely true,' the squire said to me, *that on the 
day after the battle was fought the Count of Foix knew about 
it, though how he could have done was a complete mystery. 
On the Sunday, the Monday and the Tuesday after it, he 
stayed in the castle living so plainly and gloomily that no one 
could get a word out of him. He would not even leave his 
room during those three days, or see any of the knights and 
squires who were closest to him unless he sent for them speci- 
ally. And to some he did send for he spoke not a word during 
the whole time. On the Tuesday evening he called in his 
brother. Sir Arnaut Guillaume, and said to him very quietly: 
*'Our men have had a rough time. What I said would happen 
when they left has happened." Sir Arnaut Guillaume is a very 
shrewd man who understands his brother's ways and tempera- 
ment, and he said nothing. The Count, who had nursed his 
depression long enough and wished to unburden himself, 
began speaking again, louder this time, and said: "By God, 
Arnaut, things are as I told you. We shall soon have the news 
of it, for it is a hundred years since the land of Beam lost 
so many in a single day as have died this time in Portugal." 
Several knights and squires who were standing round heard 
the Count's words and remembered them, and within ten days 


BOOK THREE (1386-8) 

they were confirmed by those who returned from the battle 
and related, first to the Count, and afterwards to everyone 
else who wanted to hear, exactly what had happened at Alju- 
barrota. The Count's grief was renewed and families were 
plunged into mourning for the brothers, fathers, sons and 
friends they had lost.' 

'Holy Virgin!' I said. 'But how could the Count have 
known or guessed it from one day to the next ? I should like to 
know that.' 'Anyway,' said the squire, 'he did know. It was 
obvious.' 'Does he have second sight?' I said, 'or does he 
have messengers who ride at night on the winds? He must 
possess some magic powers.' The squire laughed and said: 
* He must know of these things by some kind of necromancy. 
We don't really know how he does it, except by his imagin- 
ings.' 'Come, my dear sir,' I said, 'tell me more about these 
"imaginings" you are thinking of, and you will earn my 
gratitude. If it is something which ought to be kept quiet, I 
will do so. As long as I am in this country, I will not say a 
word about it.' 'No, please don't,' said the squire. 'I wouldn't 
like anyone to know that I told you. But some people do talk 
about it privately when they are among friends.' 

With that, he took me aside into an angle of the wall of the 
castle chapel and began his tale. 

'Something like twenty years ago there was an influential 
baron in this country called Raymond, Lord of Corresse. Cor- 
resse, you understand, is a town with a castle about twenty 
miles from this town of Orthez. At the time of which I am 
speaking the Lord of Corresse had a case before the Pope's 
court in Avignon over the tithes of the church in his town. 
He was in dispute with a cleric from Catalonia, who was very 
learned in canon law and claimed to have a strong right to the 
Corresse tithes, which were worth at least a hundred florins a 
year. He clearly proved his case and Pope Urban V in consis- 
tory gave a definitive judgement in his favour and rejected the 
knight's plea. The cleric armed himself with documents show- 
ing this final decision of the Pope's, travelled to Beam and 
produced them, and on the strength of the papal bull took 
possession of the tithe-rights. The Lord of Corresse was in- 



dignant with the cleric and all his works. He went to find him 
and said: "Master Peter (or Master Martin, or whatever his 
name was), do you think I am going to give up my inheri- 
tance because of your papers ? I doubt if you will be so bold 
as to make off with things that are mine, for if you do you will 
be risking your life. Now go and look somewhere else for a 
benefice. You are iiot going to get anything from my estate, 
and once for all I'm telling you to keep off." 

'The cleric was scared of the knight, who was a violent 
man, and he dared not insist. He gave up and decided to go 
back, either to Avignon or to his own country, but just before 
he left he went to the Lord of Corresse and said to him : " Sir, 
by force and not by right you are depriving me of the rights 
of my church, and in all conscience you are acting very 
wrongly. I am not as strong as you are in this country, but I 
would like you to know that as soon as I can I shall send you a 
champion who will frighten you more than I do." The baron 
made light of these threats and said : ' 'Go with God, go along, 
do your worst. You might as well be dead for all the effect 
you have on me. All your words w^on't make me give up my 

'So the cleric left the Lord of Corresse and went back to 
Avignon or Catalonia, I'm not sure which. But he did not for- 
get what he had said and about three months later, when the 
knight was least expecting it, there came to his castle at Cor- 
resse, while he was asleep in bed beside his wife, invisible 
messengers who started bumping and banging all over the 
castle, so loudly that it seemed they would break everything 
down. They pounded so hard on the door of the knight's 
room that his wife, as she lay in bed, was terrified. The knight 
heard it all but made no remark, not wishing to appear sur- 
prised. Also, he was a determined enough man to face any- 

'The knocking and banging went on for a long time in 
several parts of the castle, and then stopped. Next morning all 
the household servants assembled and came to their master as 
he was getting up and said: "My lord, didn't you hear what 
we heard last night?" The baron pretended to know nothing 


BOOK THREE (1586-8) 

and said: "No, what did you hear?" Then they told him that 
something had gone storming through his castle, and knocked 
over and broken all the crockery in the kitchen. He began to 
laugh and said that they had been dreaming and it was only 
the wind. "Before God," said his lady, "I heard it." 

'The next night the noise-makers came back and raised a 
greater commotion than before, banging even more loudly 
on the door and windows of the knight's room. The knight 
started up in bed and could not stop himself saying: "Who's 
that banging at my door at this hour of night?" A voice im- 
mediately answered : "It's me, it's me." " Who sent you here ? " 
the knight asked. " The priest from Catalonia whom you have 
wronged by taking away the dues of his benefice. I shall not 
leave you in peace until you have restored them and he is satis- 
fied." "You're a good messenger," said the knight. "What is 
your name?" "My name is Orton." ' 'Orton," said the knight, 
"serving a cleric will get you nowhere. You will have end- 
less trouble if you believe all he tells you. Now leave him, 
please, and serve me. I shall always be grateful to you." 

'Orton quickly made up his mind, for he found that he 
liked the knight, and he said: "Do you mean it?" "Yes," said 
the Lord of Corresse. "Providing you do no harm to anyone 
in this house, I should like you to work for me, and we shall 
get on well." "That's all right," said Orton. "I have no power 
to do harm beyond disturbing you or other people and waking 
you up when you want to sleep." "Then do as I ask," said 
the knight, "it will suit us both. And leave that hopeless, 
miserable cleric. There will be nothing but toil and trouble 
for you if you stay with him." "Well, since you want me," 
said Orton, "I'll come to you." 

*After that Orton grew so fond of the Lord of Corresse that 
he constantly came to see him at night and if he found him 
asleep he tugged at his pillow or gave great bangs on the doors 
and windows. When it woke the knight he used to say: 
"Orton, please, do let me sleep," and Orton would say: 
"No, I won't, not till I've told you the news." The knight's 
wife was so frightened that her hair stood on end and she hid 
under the blankets, but the knight would go on to ask: "What 



news have you got for me and which country have you been 
to?" Orton would say: "England, or Germany, or Hungary, 
or some other country. I left there yesterday and such-and- 
such a thing has happened." 

' In this way the Lord of Corresse knew everything that was 
going on in the world. Their friendship continued for five or 
six years and the knight could not keep it secret, but mentioned 
it to the Count of Foix. During the first year, when the Lord 
of Corresse attended the Count at Orthez or elsewhere, he used 
to say : " My lord, such-and-such an event has occurred in Eng- 
land, or Scotland, or Germany, or Flanders, or Brabant, or 
somewhere else," and when the Count found out later that it 
was true, he was very puzzled to understand how he had 
known of it. One day he pressed him so hard that the Lord of 
Corresse told him the whole story, to the Count's delight. 
" Baron," he said, " keep on good terms with him. I wish I had 
a messenger like that. He costs you nothing and yet brings 
you reliable news of everything that happens in the world." 
"My lord," the knight replied, "I shall take good care of that." 

' So Orton went on serving the Lord of Corresse for quite a 
long time. I do not know whether he had other masters, but 
two or three times a week he would come at night with the 
news from the various places he had visited, and the Lord of 
Corresse would write it to the Count of Foix who was de- 
lighted to have it, for he took more interest than almost any 
other ruler in what was going on in foreign countries. One 
day when the knight and the Count were chatting good- 
humouredly about Orton, the Count happened to say: 
"Baron, have you never actually seen your messenger?" 
"Good heavens, no, my lord," he answered, "and I've never 
really pressed him." "No?" said the Count. "That's surpris- 
ing. If he was as friendly with me as he is with you, I should 
have asked him to appear to me. Why not try doing it ? Then 
you could tell me what form he takes on - what he looks like. 
You told me that he speaks Gascon just like you and me." 
"Yes indeed," said the knight, "he speaks it just as well as 
you and me. Upon my word, I will have a try at seeing him, 
now you've suggested it." 

BOOK THREE (1386-8) 

* Soon afterwards the Lord of Corresse was in bed as usual, 
lying beside his wife who by now had grown accustomed to 
hearing Orton and had lost her fear of him. Orton came and 
tugged at the pillow, waking the knight from a sound sleep. 
"Who's that?" he asked. "It's me, of course, Orton." "And 
where have you come from?" "From Prague in Bohemia. 
The Roman Emperor is dead." "When did he die?" "The 
day before yesterday." "How far is it from Prague in Bo- 
hemia?" "How far?" he said. "A good sixty days' journey." 
"And you got here so quickly?" "Yes, of course. I go as fast 
as the wind, or faster." "Have you got wings?" "No, of 
course not." "Then how can you travel so fast?" "That is 
something you do not need to know%" said Orton. " Oh, yes," 
said the knight, "I should very much like to see you, to know 
what you look like." Orton said again: "You do not need to 
know. It is enough for you to hear me and know that I bring 
you sure and certain news." "Come, come, Orton," said the 
Lord of Corresse, "I should love you better if I had seen you." 
Orton answered: "Well, since you so much want to see me, 
look at the first thing you come upon when you get out of bed 
tomorrow morning. That will be me." "That's good enough," 
said the Lord of Corresse. "Now go, you are excused for 

' When the Lord of Corresse was preparing to get up next 
morning, his lady was so frightened that she pretended to feel 
ill and said that she would spend the day in bed, and when her 
husband begged her to get up, "No thank you," she said, "I 
should see Orton. I don't want to, please God, I don't want 
to see him or meet him." "But I do," said the knight and he 
got straight out of bed and sat on the edge of it, expecting 
to see Orton in his true form, but he saw nothing. Then he 
went and opened the window to let more light into the room, 
but he still saw nothing of which he could say, "That is 

'That day passed and night fell. When the Lord of Cor- 
resse was in bed, Orton came again and began talking in his 
usual way. "That's enough," said the knight. "You're just a 
joker. You were to show yourself to me yesterday and you 



did nothing of the kind." '*But I did!" he said, "I swear I 
did!" "You didn't!" "But when you got out of bed," said 
Orton, "didn't you see anything?" The Lord of Corresse 
thought for a little and then remembered. "Yes," he said, 
"while I was sitting on the bed thinking of you, I did see 
two long straws twirling and twisting about together on the 
floor." "That was me," said Orton. "That was the form I had 
taken on." "That's not good enough," said the Lord of 
Corresse. "Please take on another shape, in which I can really 
see you and recognize you." "If you go on like this I shall get 
tired of you and you will lose me. You are asking too much." 
"No, no," said the knight, "and you won't get tired of me. 
If I could see you just once, I would never ask you again." 
"Very well," said Orton, "you shall see me tomorrow. Re- 
member that the first thing you see when you come out of 
your room will be me." "That's all right, then," said the 
knight. " Now go away for today. You are excused. I want to 
get some sleep." 

'Orton went away. At nine o'clock the next morning the 
Lord of Corresse came out of his room ready dressed and 
went along a gallery which gave on to the courtyard. He 
looked down there and the first thing he saw was the most 
enormous sow he had ever seen, but it was so thin that it 
seemed to be nothing but skin and bones and it had great 
long teats dangUng under it and a long hungry-looking snout. 
The knight wondered how it had got there and was by no 
means pleased to see it in his courtyard. He called to his 
men: "Quick, let the dogs out, I want that sow to be sav- 
aged." Servants came up and opened the kennels and set the 
dogs on the sow. The sow uttered a loud cry and looked 
straight up at the Lord of Corresse as he leaned out of the 
gallery. It was not seen again, for it disappeared, and no one 
knew where it went to. The knight went back to his room very 
thoughtfully, remembering Orton and saying to himself: 
"I believe I've seen my messenger. I'm sorry now that I had 
the dogs loosed on him. Perhaps I shall never see him again. 
He told me several times that if I offended him he would not 
come back and I should lose him." He was right. Orton never 


BOOK THREE (1386-8) 

returned to the castle and the knight died before the year was 

'Now I've told you the story of Orton and how willingly 
for a time he brought the news to the Lord of Corresse.' 
'Yes,' I said to the squire who had been telling me the tale, 
* you have. But to go back to the reason why you began, is the 
Count of Foix served by a similar messenger ? ' ' To tell the 
truth,' he replied, 'many people in Beam imagine that he is, 
for nothing is done in this country - and outside it, too - in 
which he is really interested, but he knows about it at once, 
however closely the secret is guarded. That was how it was 
with the news about the knights and squires from here who 
lost their lives in Portugal. In any case, the reputation he has 
for knowing things is of great benefit to him. One could not 
lose a gold or silver spoon in this castle, or anything else, 
without him knowing at once.' 

Thereupon I took leave of the squire and found other 
company, among whom I relaxed and amused myself. But I 
took careful note of the whole story as he told it me, and such 
as I have related it here. 

Earlj in ij 89 Froissart took leave of the Count of Foix and left 
Beam. In his following chapters he goes hack to describe events which 
occurred during the two or three previous years ^ though not always in 
their exact chronological order. 

The French prepared to invade England in both i ^8j and ij86. 
The English were at first uncertain whether England or Calais was 
to be the object of attack. 


Preparations for a J^rench Invasion of 
England {i^^6^ 

The King of France, with his uncles and his counsellors, were 
fully informed of the expedition which the Duke of Lancaster 
was to take to Castile ' well before it left England, for rumours 
spread rapidly. They knew that the Spaniards would have to 
meet an attack, which explained why the Duke of Burgundy 
had so readily made peace with the people of Ghent, in order 
to be free to give support to the King of Castile, to whom the 
French were greatly indebted for a number of reasons. It was 
due to the King of Castile's seamen and warships that the 
affairs of France were prospering. Besides that, the young King 
Charles of France was eager to lead an army of invasion across 
to England, and in this he had the backing of his knights and 
squires, and particularly of the Duke of Burgundy, the Con- 
stable of France, the Count of Saint-Pol - although he was 
married to King Richard of England's sister^ - and the Lord de 
Coucy. These lords said, and most of the French knights with 
them: 'Why shouldn't we go over to England for once and 
have a look at the country and the people ? We'll get to know 
our way about there, just as the English did in their time in 

So in that year 1386, both to prevent the Duke of Lancaster's 
expedition or force it to withdraw from Galicia and Castile, 
and to threaten the English and see what response they would 
make, huge preparations were undertaken in France. Taxes 
were imposed on everyone without exception, in the cities, 
towns and country districts, to such amounts that more was 
raised in France in that year than at any other time for the 
past century. 

Great preparations were also made on the sea-coast. Right 
through the summer until September there was a continual 
milling of flour and baking of biscuits at Tournay, Lille, 
I. See below, p. 328. 2 His half-sister, Matilda Holland. 


BOOK THREE (1386-8) 

Douay, Arras, Amiens, Bethune, Saint-Omer and all the towns 
near to Sluys. It was the intention of the King and his council 
that the embarkation should take place at Sluys and that from 
there they should sail to England and ravage the country. To 
pay for the expedition and have sufficient ships, the rich in 
France were taxed a quarter or a third of their fortunes, while 
many smaller men were taxed at more than they possessed to 
provide the pay of the men-at-arms. 

The whole way from the port of Seville in Spain right round 
to Prussia, there was no big ship at sea which the French could 
lay their hands on, or had already under their control, which 
was not reserved for the King and his army. In addition to 
that, supplies wxre arriving in Flanders from many places. 
There were vast amounts of wines, salted meat, hay, oats, 
barrels of salt, onions, wine-vinegar, biscuits, flour, fats, 
beaten egg-yolks in barrels, in short everything that could be 
thought of and which in days to come will seem incredible to 
those who did not see it . . . 

From midsummer on orders were sent to Holland and Zea- 
land, Middelburg, Overyssel, Dordrecht, Schoonhoven, and 
the other sea-ports or river-ports to commandeer all the big 
ships which could be used in the enterprise and bring them to 
Sluys. But when the ships had been bespoken, the Hollanders 
and Zealanders said: 'If you want us to join you and be in 
your service, pay us in cash now. Otherwise we shall take no 
part in it.' They took their money, which was a wise precau- 
tion, before they would leave home and harbour. Never, since 
God created the world, had so many ships and great vessels 
been seen together as there were that year in the port of Sluys 
and oflF the coast between Sluys and Blankenberghe, for by 
September their number amounted to thirteen hundred and 
eighty-seven. As you stood at Sluys looking out to sea, you 
saw a whole forest of masts. Yet this did not include the fleet 
of the Constable of France, Sir Olivier de Clisson, which was 
being fitted out at Treguier in Brittany. To go with it, the 
Constable was getting carpenters to build the enclosing walls 
of a town, made entirely of good, strong timber, to be set 
down in England wherever desired after landing. Inside this 



the lords could be quartered at night, to avoid the dangers of 
surprise attacks and to sleep more comfortably and securely. 
For movement from place to place, this town was so con- 
structed that it could be taken down by loosening the joints, 
which toothed into each other, and reassembled section by 
section. There were large numbers of carpenters who had 
designed and built the thing and knew how it worked. They 
were kept on at high wages to manipulate it. 

Among this armada intended for England, I heard no men- 
tion of the Duke of Brittany, who made no appearance or 
preparations in Flanders, nor of the King's younger brother, 
the Duke of Touraine, nor of the Count of Alengon or the 
Count of Blois. But everyone could not go; some had to stay 
in France to help protect the realm. But anyone who was at 
Bruges or Damme or Sluys at that time and saw the ships being 
busily loaded, the trusses of hay being packed in barrels, bis- 
cuits put into sacks, and the barrelfuls and so on of onions, 
garlic, peas, beans, olives, barley, oats, rye, wheat, tallow 
and wax candles, gaiters, shoes, leg-hose, boots, spurs, knives, 
axes, hatchets, picks, mattocks, wooden hurdles, boxes of 
ointment, bandages, dressings, camp-beds, nails and shoes for 
the horses, bottles of verjuice and vinegar, goblets, mugs, 
wooden and pewter dishes, candle-sticks, basins, pots, grid- 
irons, cooking utensils, drinking utensils, other utensils and 
implements and everything that can be thought of to supply 
the bodily needs of men going across the sea - it can be said 
that the interest and fascination of seeing all this were so great 
that a man suffering from fever or tooth-ache would have for- 
gotten all his pains as he walked about there. And those French 
soldiers, to hear them talking, considered England to be 
already crushed and devastated, all her men killed, and her 
women and children brought to France and held in slavery. . . . 

The great lords vied with one another to make lavish 
preparations and to embellish their ships with their badges 
and coats-of-arms. Painters certainly had a prosperous time. 
They were paid whatever they liked to ask and they refused to 
give any reductions. Banners, pennants and silken streamers 
of really surpassing beauty were made. The masts were painted 


BOOK THREE (1386-8) 

from top to bottom and many, to advertise their wealth and 
power, had them covered with fine gold-leaf, over which were 

painted the arms of the lords to whom the ships belonged. I 
was told in particular that Sir Guy de La Tremoille had his 
personal ship magnificently decorated and that the devices and 
paintings which were done on it cost over two thousand francs. 
The great lords did everything that could possibly be thought 
of to beautify their ships, and it was all paid for by poor 
people throughout France, for the taxes levied for this expedi- 
tion were so great that the richest complained bitterly and the 
poor tried to escape from them. 

All that was being done in France and Flanders, at Bruges, 
Damme and Sluys, was known in England. Beyond that, 
exaggerated rumours spread through England, greatly 
alarming the inhabitants of many places. All over the country, 
in the towns and cities, religious processions were instituted 
three times weekly, and observed in a spirit of deep devotion 
and contrition. Prayers were offered to God to deliver them 
from this peril. But many thousands of Englishmen desired 
nothing better than that the French should come. The more 
light-hearted ones, who were taking it cheerfully and wanted 
to encourage the pessimists said: 'Let them all come, those 
French. Not a ballock of them shall get back to France, by 
God.' Those who were in debt and had no desire to pay up 
were in particularly good humour, and said to their creditors : 
'Just wait. They're minting the money to pay you with in 
France.' On that assurance they lived and spent lavishly and 
easily obtained credit. If they were given only meagre fare on 
credit, they said: 'What's the matter? Surely it's better for us 
to spend the wealth of this country than for the French to get 
it and have the enjoyment.' Li that way they spent the re- 
sources of England recklessly. 

There are dissensions in England, but Richard IPs council is able 
to take measures to protect the country. Various commands are set up 
round the coast and the garrison of Calais is reinforced. 

All the ports and harbours from the River Humber round to 
Cornwall were garrisoned with men-at-arms and archers or 



reinforced. On all the hills overlooking the sea and opposite 
the coasts of Flanders and France look-outs were posted, in 
this manner: they took empty wine-casks from Gascony, filled 
them with sand and set them on top of one another, and at the 
very top they fixed platforms on which men stayed day and 
night keeping watch. They could see twenty miles or more out 
to sea. Their orders were, if they saw the French fleet coming, 
to light torches and make big fires on the hills, so as to warn 
the country and bring all the men together on the sites of the 
fires. It was decided to let the King of France land unopposed 
and go inland for three or four days. Then first, before attack- 
ing him, they would attack and capture the ships and take or 
destroy all the supplies. Only then would they tackle the 
French army, not yet to fight a battle but as a harassing 
operation. The French would not be able to go foraging, nor 
would they find anything because the open country would all 
have been laid waste, and England is a bad country to cam- 
paign through on horseback. So they would be starved and in 
a desperate position. 

Such were the plans of the English. Also the bridge at 
Rochester, which spans a wide river running into the Thames 
and the sea opposite the Isle of Sheppey, was broken down. 
The Londoners had this done to make themselves more 
secure. And it can be said that if the taxation in France im- 
posed on the town-dwellers was harsh and heavy, in England 
too that year it was crushing, so that the country felt the con- 
sequences for a long time after. But people paid gladly in order 
to be defended with greater vigilance. In England there were a 
good hundred thousand archers and ten thousand men-at- 
arms, although the Duke of Lancaster had taken a large force 
to Castile, as will be described later. 

Sir Simon Burley was the governor of Dover Castle, so he 
often received information about France from men of Calais 
and English fishermen who continued going to sea in their 
usual way. To get good catches they often go fishing off 
Boulogne and outside the harbour of Wissant. They brought 
news to Sir Simon as he asked them to, for w^hen they met 


BOOK THREE (1386-8) 

French fishermen these told them all they knew, and some- 
times more. Whether France and England are at war or not, 
fishermen at sea would never hurt each other, but are friends 
among themselves and helpful when necessary. They buy and 
sell their fish between them at sea, when some have a better 
catch than the others. If they fought each other there would 
be no sea-fish landed and no one would dare to go fishing 
without an armed escort. 

The Constable of France left Treguier in Brittany with a 
large force of men-at-arms and quantities of supplies. His 
whole fieet numbered seventy-two ships all fully laden. 
Among them were the ships carrying the wooden town which 
was to be set up on land when they reached England. The 
Constable's fleet had a favourable wind to begin with, but 
when they neared England it became too strong, and the 
farther they went the harder it blew. Off Margate, near the 
Thames estuary, it strengthened so much that, in spite of all 
the sailors could do, their ships became scattered and there 
were not twenty sail keeping together. The wind drove several 
ships into the Thames and they were captured by the English; 
among them were one or two carrying parts of the wooden 
town and the craftsmen who had made it. All this was taken 
up the Thames to London, to the great joy of the King and the 
citizens. Of the rest of the Constable's ships, seven were 
carried forward willy-nilly by the wind, loaded with supplies, 
to be wrecked off Zealand. However, the Constable himself 
and the chief lords reached Sluys after great difficulties and 

Because of the dilatoriness of the High Command and various mis- 
haps and delays, the French fleet is still waiting at Sluys in December. 
The Duke of Berry strongly advises against risking an invasion in 
winter. Amid much grumbling, the whole concentration is dispersed 
and the enterprise is postponed indefinitely. Froissart puts the cost, 
raised in taxes from the Kingdom of France alone, at over three 
million francs. 


Tra/ by Qombat (i^S^-/) 

A T that time there was much talk in France, and as far as the 
most distant parts of the kingdom, of a duel to the death 
which was to take place in Paris following a decision of the 
High Court of Paris. The dispute had dragged on for over a 
year between the two parties, who were a knight called Sir 
Jean de Carrouges and a squire called Jacques Le Gris, both 
belonging to the domain and household of Count Pierre 
d' Alen9on, who held the two of them in great regard. Jacques 
Le Gris in particular was high in the Count's favour. He was 
especially fond of him and placed great trust in him. He was 
not a man of very good family, but a squire of humble birth 
who had risen in the world, favoured by fortune as many 
people are. But when they are right on top and think them- 
selves secure, fortune flings them back into the mire and they 
end up lower than they began. Now, as to the mortal combat 
which ensued and caused such a stir that people came to 
Paris to see it from many different places, I will describe what 
led to it, as I was myself informed at the time. 

It happened that Sir Jean de Carrouges made plans to go on 
an expedition overseas - a thing which he had always been 
fond of doing - to help him in his advancement. Before 
leaving, he asked for the Count of Alencon's permission and 
was readily granted it. The knight had married a wife who was 
young, beautiful, good, sensible and modest in her behaviour. 
He bid her a loving good-bye, as knights do when they leave 
for distant lands. He set out, leaving her with her servants in a 
castle on the border of Le Perche and Alen^on, with the name, 
I believe, oi Argenteuil.^ While the knight went journeying on, 
she remained there, living simply and discreetly. 

It then happened - and this was the whole point at issue - 
that, through a strange, perverse temptation, the devil entered 

I. There is no Argenteuil in the region. The castle was probably at 


BOOK THREE (1386-8) 

the body of Jacques Le Gris, who was still with the Count of 
Alen^on, whose principal counsellor he was. He conceived 
the idea of committing a great crime, which he had to pay for 
later; but it could never be proved against him and he never 
admitted his guilt. His thoughts became fixed upon Sir Jean 
de Carrouges' wife, whom he knew was living almost alone 
with her servants in the castle oi Argenteuil. So he left Alencon 
one day on a good horse and spurred swiftly forward until he 
reached the castle. The servants welcomed him in, because he 
and their master both served the same lord and were com- 
panions-in-arms. In the same way the lady, not suspecting 
anything wrong, gave him a friendly reception, led him to her 
room and showed him a number of her things. Bent on his 
evil design, Jacques asked the lady to take him to see the keep, 
saying that that was partly the object of his visit. The lady 
agreed without question and the two of them went to it 
alone. Neither man nor maidservant went with them, because 
since the lady was entertaining him so pleasantly, showing that 
she had complete faith in his honour, they thought that every- 
thing was well. 

No sooner had they entered the keep than Jacques Le Gris 
shut the door behind him. The lady paid little attention to it, 
thinking that the wind had blown it shut - and Jacques en- 
couraged her to think so. When they were alone there to- 
gether, Jacques Le Gris, ensnared by the wiles of the Enemy, 
put his arms round her and said : ' Lady, I swear to you that I 
love you better than my life, but I must have my will of you.' 
The lady was astounded and tried to cry out, but the squire 
stuffed a little glove which he carried into her mouth to silence 
her, gripped her tight, for he was a strong man, and pushed 
her down to the floor. He raped her, having his desire of her 
against her will. When this was done, he said: *Lady, if you 
ever mention what has happened, you will be dishonoured. Say 
nothing and I will keep quiet too for your honour's sake.' The 
lady, weeping bitterly, replied : 'Ah, you wicked, treacherous 
man, I will keep quiet, but not for as long as you will need me to. ' 

She then opened the door of the room in the keep and came 
down, followed by the squire. 



Her people saw that she was distressed and weeping but, 
having no suspicion that anything was wrong, they thought 
that he had brought some bad news of her husband or rela- 
tions, and that this explained her grief. 

The young wife shut herself in her room and there gave 
way to bitter lamentations. Jacques left the castle on his horse 
and rode back to his master the Count of Alen9on. He was 
present at his levee on the stroke of ten, and he had been seen 
in the Count's castle at four in the morning. I give these facts 
in view of the great law-suit which followed later in Paris, 
during which the point was inquired into by the commissioners 
of the High Court of Justice. On the day when this miserable 
thing befell her, the lady of Carrouges stayed in her castle half- 
dazed, bearing her sorrow as best she could. She revealed 
nothing to any of her servants, feeling sure that if she did so 
she was more likely to incur blame than credit. But she fixed 
firmly in her memory the day and the time when Jacques Le 
Gris had come to the castle. 

Presently her husband, the master of Carrouges, returned 
home from his journey. His wife greeted him warmly on his 
arrival, as did all the servants. That day passed, night came, 
and Sir Jean went to bed. The lady would not come to bed, at 
which her husband was much surprised and kept asking her to 
do so. She put him off and walked up and down the room deep 
in thought. Finally, when all their people were in bed, she 
came to her husband and, kneeling beside him, told him in 
pitiful tones of the dreadful thing which had happened to her. 
At first the knight could not believe it, but she so insisted that 
he came round and said : 'All right, then, my lady, if the thing 
happened as you say, I forgive you ; but the squire shall die for 
it in some way to be decided by my friends and yours. And if 
I find that what you have told me is not true, you shall never 
live with me again.' The lady maintained and insisted even 
more strongly that it was absolutely true. 

That night passed. The next day Sir Jean had a number of 
letters written and sent to his wife's closest friends and his own, 
with the result that soon after they all came to the castle of 
Argenteuil, He welcomed them discreetly and assembled them 


BOOK THREE (1386-8) 

in a room, where he explained the reason which had caused 
him to send for them and got his wife to relate the whole 
happening in detail, to their sheer amazement. He asked for 
their opinion and was advised to go to his lord the Count of 
Alen9on and tell him the whole story, which he did. The 
Count, who was extremely fond of Jacques Le Gris, refused 
to believe him, and appointed a day for the two parties to 
appear before him. He required the lady who was accusing 
Jacques Le Gris to be present, in order to describe what had 
happened in her own words. She came, and many members of 
her family with her, to the Count of Alen9on's court. The 
proceedings were long and heated, with Jacques Le Gris 
being accused of the crime both by the knight and by the full 
account which his wife gave of it. Jacques Le Gris firmly 
maintained his innocence, saying that there was no truth in 
the charge and that the lady was accusing him unjustly. He 
was at a loss, he said in his speech, to know why the lady 
hated him. He proved clearly, by the evidence of members of 
the Count's household, that on the day when it happened he 
had been seen there at four o'clock, and the Count said that at 
ten o'clock he was attending him in his chamber. He added 
that it was quite impossible in the time for him to have done 
what he was accused of doing and ridden the distance there 
and back, seventy-two miles in four-and-a-half hours. ^ The 
Count told the lady, in order to support his squire, that she 
must have dreamt it, and he made a formal order for the charge 
to be annulled and for no further questions ever to be raised 
about it. The knight, who possessed great courage and be- 
lieved his wife, refused to obey this ruling. He went to Paris 
and laid his case against Jacques Le Gris before the High 
Court. Jacques responded to his summons and gave securities 
pledging him to abide by the court's decision. 

The proceedings went on for more than a year-and-a-half. 
The two parties could not be reconciled because the knight 

I . Evidently leaving i \ hours for his visit to the castle. For the distance, 
the original has ' 24 leagues'. Alen^on is twenty-eight miles from Argentan 
by the modern road, and if the latter town was meant the distance given 
by Froissart for the double journey is not too far out. 



believed absolutely in his wife's account and because the case 
had become so notorious that he felt bound to pursue it to 
the end. The Count of Alen9on was so infuriated by his 
obstinacy that there were many times when he would have had 
him killed, but for the fact that they had already gone to court. 

After much deliberation and argument the court pro- 
nounced that, since the lady of Carrouges could not prove 
anything against Jacques Le Gris, the matter should be settled 
by a duel to the death. All the parties, the knight, the squire 
and the knight's lady, were ordered to be present in Paris on 
the day appointed, which was to be the first Monday of the 
year 1387. 

At that time the King of France and his barons had gone to 
Sluys with the intention of invading England. When word of 
the court's decision reached the King, who already saw that 
the invasion would not take place, he said that he would like 
to see the duel between the knight and the squire. The Dukes 
of Berry, Burgundy and Bourbon, w^ho also wanted to see it, 
told the King that it was quite right for him to go. He accord- 
ingly sent word to Paris for the combat to be postponed until 
he could witness it, and this order was duly obeyed. 

The day of the combat arrived at about the beginning of the 
year counted as 1387 according to the custom of Rome. The 
lists were prepared in St Catherine's Square, behind the 
Temple. The King of France was there with his uncles and 
vast crowds of people came to watch. At one side of the lists 
big stands had been erected, from which the lords could see 
the fight between the two champions. These came on to the 
field and were armed from head to foot, as was required of 
them, and seated each in his separate chair. Sir Jean de 
Carrouges was seconded by Count Waleran de Saint-Pol, 
and Jacques Le Gris by the Count of Alen9on's men. Before 
the knight entered the lists, he went over to his wife, who was 
sitting clothed in black in a carriage draped entirely in black 
also, and said to her: 'Lady, on your evidence I am about to 
hazard my life in combat with Jacques Le Gris. You know if 
my cause is just and true.' 'My lord,' said the lady, 'it is so. You 


BOOK THREE (1386-8) 

can fight confidently. The cause is just.' 'In God's hands be it 
then,' said the knight. He kissed his wife, pressed her hand, 
then made the sign of the cross and entered the lists. 

The lady remained in the black-draped carriage, praying 
fervently to God and the Virgin Mary, entreating them 
humbly to grant her victory on that day in accordance with 
her right. You will understand that she was in great anxiety 
and far from certain that her own life was safe, for if her 
husband got the worst of it, the sentence was that he should 
be hanged and she burnt without appeal. I do not know - for 
I never spoke with her - whether she had not often regretted 
having gone so far with the matter that she and her husband 
were in such grave danger - and then finally there was nothing 
for it but to await the outcome. 

When the two champions had taken the oath, as is usual 
before such combats, they were placed opposite each other 
and told to say why they had come together. They then 
mounted their horses and sat them very prettily, for both were 
skilled in arms. The first part of the combat was a joust, in 
which neither of them was injured. They then dismounted 
and continued on foot, both fighting very courageously. The 
first to suffer was Sir Jean de Carrouges, who was wounded in 
the thigh, to the great alarm of his supporters, but he fought 
on so stoutly that he felled his opponent and, thrusting his 
sword into his body, killed him on the spot. He turned and 
asked whether he had done his duty and was told that he had. 
Jacques Le Gris's body was delivered to the executioner of 
Paris, who dragged it to Mountfaucon and hanged it there. 

Then Sir Jean de Carrouges went up to the King and kneeled 
before him. The King made him rise and presented him with 
a thousand francs, making him also a member of his chamber 
with a pension of two hundred francs a year for life. After 
thanking the King and the great nobles, the knight went to his 
wife and kissed her, then they went together to the Cathedral 
of Notre-Dame to make their thank-offerings before returning 
to their house. 

Sir Jean de Carrouges did not remain long in France after 
this, but set off with the younger Lord Boucicaut, son of the 



great Boucicaut, and Sir Jean Desbordes and Sir Louis de 
Giac. The four of them were anxious to visit the Holy 
Sepulchre and the Sultan Amurat, of whom there was much 
talk in France at the time. With them also was Robin of 
Boulogne, a squire of honour of the King of France, who in his 
day made several notable journeys.^ 

I . This was the last known occasion on which the Parlement of Paris 
ordered a trial by combat. It should be added that, according to three other 
chronicles, Jacques Le Gris was later declared innocent, when a man con- 
demned to death for a different crime confessed to the rape of the Lady of 
Carrouges. In view, however, of the psychology of the condemned 
criminal, quite apart from the possibility that the confession was a forced 
one, this appears by no means conclusive. If, as Froissart says, the Car- 
rouges ser\'^ants recognized Le Gris when he visited the castle, their 
mistress's version seems unshakable. 


"^Rj^hard IPs J^irst Struggle with his Uncles 


The King of England's uncles, the Dukes of York and 
Gloucester, with the Earls of Salisbury, Arundel, Northumber- 
land and Nottingham and the Archbishop of Canterbury, ' 
were all allied together against the King and his council. 
Their discontent was great and they said in private: 'This 
Duke of Ireland 2 twists the King round his finger and does 
what he likes in England. The King listens only to bad people, 
of mean birth in comparison with princes. As long as he has 
his present council things cannot go right, for a kingdom can 
never be well governed nor a sovereign properly advised by 
bad people. It always happens that, when a poor man rises in 
the world and is honoured by his master, he becomes corrupt 
and ruins the people and the country. A base man has no idea 
of what honour means, but wants to grab everything and 
gobble it up, just like an otter in a pond destroying all the 
fish it finds there. What good can come of this intimacy be- 
tween the Duke of Ireland and the King? We know his 
ancestry and where he came from and we fear that England 
will be entirely ruled by him, and the King's uncles and blood- 
relations left aside. That is not a thing to be tolerated.' 

'We know who the Earl of Oxford is,' said others. 'He 
was the son of Earl Aubrey of Oxford,^ who never had much 
of a reputation in this country for honour, wisdom, sound 
judgement or chivalry.' 

Such complaints about the Duke of Ireland were wide- 
spread in England. What discredited him most was his 

1 . William GDurtenay. 

2. Robert de Vere, ninth Earl of Oxford, created Duke of Ireland in 

3. Robert de Vere's father was in fact Thomas, the eighth earl, who is 
meant here. Aubrey (tenth earl) was his uncle. 



treatment of his wife,^ the daughter of the Lord de Coucy and 
of the Queen of England's daughter, Madam Isabella who, as 
you know, was a good and beautiful lady, of the highest and 
noblest descent possible. But he fell in love with one of the 
maids-in- waiting of the Queen of England, a German woman, 
and so worked on Urban VI, who was in Rome and considered 
himself Pope, that he obtained a divorce from the Lord de 
Coucy's daughter with no shadow of an excuse except his own 
presumption and negligence and married that maid of the 
Queen's.2 All this was allowed by King Richard, who was so 
blinkered by the Duke of Ireland that even if he said black was 
white the King did not contradict him. . . . 

The Duke felt himself so secure in the King's favour that 
he did not believe that anyone could harm him, and a report 
ran through England that a tax of one noble was to be levied 
on each hearth, by which the rich [who had several fires in 
their houses] would make up for the poor. The King's uncles 
knew that this would be a very great burden, and caused the 
word to be spread that it would be too damaging to the people 
and that there were, or should be, large sums of money in the 
royal treasury, of which an account should be demanded from 
his mentors. 

Richard is obliged, very unwillingly, to call Parliament together to 
inquire into the management of the funds which have passed through 
bis favourite' s hands. 

The day of accounting came at Westminster in the presence 
of the King's uncles and the representatives - prelates, earls, 
barons and burgesses of the towns. The audit lasted for more 
than a month. If there were any who could not give a good 
and honest account, they were punished either physically or 
financially, and some in both ways. Sir Simon Burley, who had 
been one of the King's tutors in his youth, was found to show 
a deficit on that account of 250,000 francs, and was asked 
where all that money had gone to. He put the responsibility 
on the Archbishop of York, Alexander Neville, brother of 
Lord Neville, saying that everything had been done through 
him and on his advice and through the King's chamberlains, 
I. Philippa de Coucy. 2. Agnes Lancecrona. 

BOOK THREE (1386-8) 

Sir Robert Tresilian, Sir John Beauchamp, Sir John Salisbury, 
Sir Nicholas Brembre, Sir John Golafre' and others. But 
these, on being called before the council, denied responsibility 
and placed it all upon him. The Duke of Ireland said to him : 
*I have heard that you are going to be arrested and kept in 
prison until you repay the sum demanded of you. Don't argue 
the point, do as they tell you. I will make your peace with them, 
even if they all swear the contrary. I am to receive 60,000 
francs from the Constable of France for the ransom of John 
of Brittany, which he owes me, as you know. If necessary I 
will lend it to you to appease the council for the time being. 
And in the long run the King is supreme. He will pardon you 
and remit the whole sum, because in the end it must come back 
to him and no one else.' 

Sir Simon Burley trusts in these assurances, but is nevertheless 
condemned to imprisonment in the Toji^er until he can make restitu- 
tion. The King fails to have him released and leaves for the Welsh 
Marches with the Queen and the Duke of Ireland, His uncles remain 
in JLondon and the case against Bur ley is pressed forward. 

The common rumour in many parts of England was that 
for a long time past the Duke of Ireland and Sir Simon Burley 
had been hoarding up gold and silver and salting it away in 
Germany. It had come to the knowledge of the King's uncles 
and the representatives of the English towns that chests and 
coffers had been taken down secretly at night from Dover 
Castle to the harbour and then shipped across the sea. It was 
then said that this had been money collected by the above- 
named and smuggled fraudulently out of England to other 
countries, with the result that the realm had been greatly 
weakened financially. Many deplored this, and said that gold 
and silver had become so difficult to acquire that trade was 
stagnating in consequence, and no other explanation of the 
scarcity could be thought of. 

This kind of talk became so general that Sir Simon Burley 

was gravely prejudiced by it and it was decreed, by the King's 

uncles and the burgesses acting with them, that he had 

deserved death on account of the charges against him. What 

I. Froissart: Pierre Goulouffre. 



told most heavily against him, particularly in the opinion of the 
common people, was that he had once advised the Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury to have the shrine of St Thomas re- 
moved from there and taken for safety to Dover Castle - that 
was when they were expecting the French to invade them. 
But the common explanation after he had been put in prison 
was that he meant to steal it and send it abroad. 

Such strong accusations were brought against him that 
none of his answers and protests was of any avail. One day he 
was brought out from the Tower of London and beheaded 
in front of it, as a traitor. May God forgive him his misdeeds. 
I am grieved to write of his shameful death, but I must do so 
for the truth of the record. But for my part I felt very sorry 
for him, because in my youth I had found him a very pleasant 
knight and, in my opinion, a man of sound judgement. 

The Archbishop of York, Alexander Neville, is relieved of his 
post of Treasurer and sent northwards in disgrace. King Richard who, 
according to Froissart, was established at Bristol, authorises the 
Duke of Ireland to raise an army in Wales and the west which he will 
lead in the Kin£s name against his uncles. To obtain information 
about the state of things in Tondon, Sir Robert Tresilian is sent there 

He left Bristol, dressed as a poor trader and mounted on a 
small hackney. Reaching London, he put up at an inn incog- 
nito. No one would ever have thought that he was Tresilian, 
one of the King's chamberlains, for he was dressed not as a 
gentleman, but as a common fellow. In his first day in London 
he learnt a great deal about the Duke of York and the Duke of 
Gloucester and his council, but only things that were com- 
mon knowledge and nothing more. He heard that there was 
to be a private meeting at Westminster between the King's 
uncles and the new council of the realm and he decided to go 
there secretly and find out what happened at it. He went to 
Westminster on the day the parliament was to be held in the 
King's palace and entered a house where ale was sold just 
outside the palace entrance. He went to an upstairs room 
looking on to the yard of the palace and stayed there for a long 
time. He could see those who went in and out, many of whom 


BOOK THREE (1386-8) 

he knew, but was not noticed himself because of his clothes. 
After a considerable time a squire of the Duke of Gloucester's, 
who knew him wxll, happened to pass before the tavern and 
looked up and saw him. When Sir Robert saw the squire's 
face, he immediately recognized him and drew back from the 
window. The squire had a sudden suspicion and said to him- 
self: 'I feel sure I've seen Tresilian.' He went into the tavern 
and said to the landlady: 'Tell me, hostess, who's that man 
drinking up there ? Is he by himself, or with friends ? ' ' Good 
lord, sir,' the landlady replied, 'I don't know his name, but he 
is by himself and he's been up there a long time.' Hearing 
this, the squire went upstairs to have a closer look at him. He 
greeted him and saw at once that his guess was right, but he 
covered up and said instead: 'A very good day to you! I'm 
sorry to have disturbed you, but I thought you might be a 
farmer of mine from Essex. You're very like him.' 'No,' Sir 
Robert answered, 'I come from Kent. I'm a tenant of Sir John 
Holland and the Archbishop of Canterbury's men are nibbling 
at my land. I should like to make a complaint to Parliament.' 
The squire said: 'If you will come into the palace down there, 
I wall get you a hearing from the lords and masters of Parlia- 
ment.' 'Many thanks,' said Sir Robert. 'I won't say no to your 

On this, the squire left him. He ordered a quart of ale, 
paid for it, then said good-bye to the landlady and wxnt across 
to the palace, walking through it as far as the approach to the 
council chamber. He called to an usher, who opened the door. 
The usher immediately recognized him and said: 'What do 
you want? The lords are in council.' 'I want to speak to my 
master the Duke of Gloucester on a matter which concerns 
him closely, and the whole council too.' Knowing the squire 
to be a man of standing and importance, the usher let him in 
and he came before the lords in council. Kneeling before the 
Duke of Gloucester, he said: 'My lord, I have important 
news.' 'Important?' said the Duke. 'What is it?' 'My lord,' 
said the squire, 'I will tell you openly, for it concerns both you 
and all the gentlemen present. I have seen Sir Robert Tresilian, 
dressed as a commoner, just outside the palace here, lying up in 



an ale-house.' 'Tresilian!' said the Duke. 'Yes, my lord, the 
man himself. You can have him at dinner if you want him.' 
' I certainly do want him,' said the Duke, 'He can give us some 
news about Ireland, and about his master the Duke. Go and 
fetch him at once, and take enough force with you not to lose 

Armed with the Duke's authority, the squire left the council 
chamber and collected four serjeants-at-arms, to whom he said : 
'Follow me at a distance. Then, as soon as I show you a man 
whom I'm going to look for, lay hands on him and make 
sure he doesn't get away. ' ' Right,' they said. 

The squire entered the tavern where Tresilian was and went 
upstairs to the room where he had left him. Going in and 
finding him still there, he said: 'Tresilian, you're up to no 
good in this place. At least, I suppose not. My lord of Glouces- 
ter has sent for you. He wants to talk to you.' The knight 
pretended not to understand and tried to wriggle out of it by 
saying: 'I am not TresiHan. I am one of Sir John Holland's 
farmers.' 'It's no good,' said the squire. 'Your body is 
Tresilian' s, if your clothes are not.' He signalled to the Ser- 
jeants who were outside the inn door to come and arrest him. 
They came upstairs, seized him and took him, willy-nilly, to the 

As you can well imagine, a huge crowd gathered to see him, 
for he was well known in London and other parts of England. 
The Duke of Gloucester was very pleased by his capture and 
ordered him to be brought in. When he was in his presence, he 
said: 'Well, Tresihan, what brings you here? What is my 
lord doing? Where is he?' Seeing that he was definitely 
recognized and that further concealment was useless, Tresilian 
answered: 'Of course, my lord. Our lord the King is mostly 
at Bristol and on the Severn. He's hunting and amusing him- 
self down there. That was why he sent me here to find out what 
was happening.' '\)vTiat!' said the Duke. 'In a state like that? 
You have not come as a respectable person, but like a spy and 
a traitor. If you wanted to find out what was happening, you 
should have come as a knight and an honest man and brought 
letters of credence with you. Had you done that, you could 


BOOK THREE (1386-8) 

have taken back all the information you needed.' 'My lord/ 
said Tresilian, 'if I have done wrong, forgive me. I was made 
to do all this.' 'And where is your master, the Duke of Ire- 
land?' 'He is with our lord the King, sir.' 'So?' said the 
Duke of Gloucester. 'We are informed that he is assembling a 
large force of men-at-arms, and that so is the King on his 
behalf. What does he intend to do with them?' 'My lord,' 
replied Tresilian, 'they are all for an expedition to Ireland.' 
' Ireland ! ' said the Duke. ' Yes, my lord, as God is my witness,' 
said Tresilian. 

The Duke of Gloucester reflected a little and then said: 
'Tresilian, Tresilian, your behaviour is neither honest nor 
creditable. You did a very silly thing to come here, for you are 
not much liked in London, as we shall show you. You and the 
others in your party have given a lot of trouble to my brother 
and me. You have done your best to corrupt and mislead the 
King and some of the nobles of this country. In addition you 
have stirred up some of the towns against us. The day has 
come for you to reap the consequences, since it is only right 
that you should be paid according to your deserts. Put your 
affairs in order, for I will touch neither food nor drink as long 
as you are alive.' 

Tresilian was dismayed by these words - and naturally, since 
no man can be glad to hear his death announced to him in the 
way the Duke of Gloucester had done. He tried to excuse 
himself by fine words, pleading several things in mitigation; 
but all to no purpose, for the Duke was so well informed about 
him and the other members of the Duke of Ireland's faction 
that no excuses would serve. Why should I prolong the tale ? 
Tresilian was delivered to the executioner, taken out of 
Westminster and handed over to those w^ho perform such 
functions, and there beheaded and then hanged on the King's 
gibbet by the armpits. So ended Sir Robert Tresilian. 

King Richard is infuriated bj the news of Tresilian's execution. 
He presses forward with the assembly of an army in the ivest. He is 
advised by Nicholas Brembre, former Mayor of London, that many 
Londoners n^ould support him but for his absence, which encourages 



Opposition to hit?2. He therefore entrusts the Duks of Ireland ivith the 
task of leading his army near to l^ondon to test the temper of the 
citif^ens. Ireland reaches Oxford ivith fifteen thousand men marching 
under the Kin£s banners. The I^ondoners, however, assure the Dukes 
of York and Gloucester that they are not afraid of Ireland and will 
resist him. Men are assembled from the Home Counties. 

From Oxford, Ireland sends three knights with a small escort to 
test reaction in Ij)ndon. They reach the Tower one evening, travelling 
partly by boat. The Governor of the Tower advises them that London 
is solidly against them and that they had better stay hidden. Next night 
they return by barge to Windsor, and thence to Oxford. On receiving 
their report, the Duke of Ireland grows dubious, feeling uncertain also 
of the loyalty of his oim forces. He finally decides to remain in the field, 
since he is Constable of England and charged with putting down the 
rebels; but he asks the King to send him more men. 

Gloucester moves towards Oxford, leading a force composed chiefly 
ofl^ondon levies. Somewhat hesitantly, the Duke of Ireland comes out 
to meet him. 

Word was brought to the Duke of Gloucester, who was 
encamped about ten miles from Oxford near a small river which 
flows into the Thames below Oxford - his men were all 
along the bank in a fine meadow - that the Duke of Ireland 
had come out from the city and put his men in battle-order. 
The news delighted him and he said that he would fight, 
provided they could get over the Thames. His trumpets 
sounded the call to strike camp and the army formed up ready 
for immediate action. They were within two miles of the enemy, 
if somehow they could find a way to reach them across the 
river. The Duke sent some of his knights to test the depth of 
the ford and they found the water as low as had been known for 
thirty years. These scouts crossed with ease and went on to 
reconnoitre the enemy's formation. Then they rode back to 
the Duke of Gloucester and told him : ' Sir, God and the river 
are on your side today. It is so shallow that it was only up 
to our horses' bellies in the deepest place. Furthermore, sir, 
we have seen the Duke of Ireland's dispositions. His men 
are drawn up in good order. We do not know whether the 
King is with them, but his banners are there. We saw no 


BOOK THREE (1386-8) 

Other banners except his, showing the arms of France and 

The Duke answered : ' God be with us then. We have some 
share in those arms, my brother and I. Let's ride forward in 
the name of God and St George, for I want to have a closer 
look at them.' Everyone advanced eagerly, because they had 
heard that it would be easy to get over the river. The mounted 
men quickly reached the bank and crossed, showing the way 
to the others. Soon their whole army was on the farther side. 

Word of this reached the Duke of Ireland, with the know- 
ledge that before long he would be engaged in battle. Anxiety 
seized him because he knew that, if he were taken prisoner, the 
Duke of Gloucester would put him to death ignominiously, 
refusing any offers of ransom. He said to Sir John Golafre 
and Sir Michael de la Pole : ' I feel no relish for fighting today. 
If I am captured by the King's uncles, they will give me a 
shameful death. How the devil did they get across the Thames ? 
It's an unlucky start for us.' 'What do you intend to do, then ?' 
the two knights asked. ' To get away,' said the Duke, ' and let 
the others escape as best they can.' 'In that case we had better 
place ourselves on one of the wings,' the two knights went on, 
' and so we shall have two strings to our bow. We shall be able 
to see how our men are doing. If they are fighting well we will 
stay, for the honour of the King who sent us here. If they are 
defeated, we will get away across country and have the advant- 
age of being free to ride in whichever direction we choose.' 

This course was adopted. The Duke of Ireland took a fresh, 
strong horse and the knights did the same. They rode round 
the army looking brave and cheerful, and saying : ' Stand firm, 
men. We shall win the day, with the help of God and St 
George, for right is on our side. We are fighting for the King, 
so our cause is stronger.' So, hiding their intentions and keep- 
ing clear of the press, they reached the edge of the army and 
formed a wing. Then up came the Duke of York, the Duke of 
Gloucester and the other captains. They came in warlike order 
with their banners unfurled, amid a great sounding of trum- 
pets. When the King's men saw them, their courage forsook 
them. They broke formation and began to disperse and take 



to their heels. Word had gone round that their commander, 
the Duke of Ireland, was running away with his lieutenants. 
So they fled in all directions, without attempting to resist. 
Meanwhile the Duke and the two knights made off across 
country at full gallop. They had no mind to retreat to Oxford, 
but to get as far away from it as possible to some place of 

When the Duke of Gloucester saw the disorder in the army 
facing him, a twinge of conscience seized him and he decided 
not to do his worst against them. He knew that all, or many 
of them, had been either forced or incited to come by the 
Duke of Ireland. He therefore said to his men : ' The day is 
ours, but I forbid you on your lives to kill any man unless he 
puts up a defence. And if you come across knights or squires, 
take them prisoner and bring them to me.' His orders were 
obeyed and there were few killed, except those who died in the 
press when they were riding against each other. 

In the rout were taken prisoner Sir John Beauchamp, known 
as little Beauchamp, and Sir John Salisbury, and handed over 
to the Duke of Gloucester, to his great satisfaction. He and his 
commanders made their way to Oxford, where they found the 
gates open to them and entered unopposed. Those who could 
lodged in the town, though they found themselves very 
cramped. . . . After two days at Oxford, the Duke disbanded 
all his men, telling them to return to their homes and thanking 
them for their services to his brother and himself. 

The Duke of Ireland^ with John Golafre and Michael de la Pole, 
escapes northward and eventually finds his way overseas to ¥ landers. 
]ohn Beauchamp and John Salisbury are beheaded, at Oxford, says 
Froissart. After Gloucester's return to L^ondon, Nicholas Brembre, 
' who had been found and captured in Wales\ is beheaded in the capital. 

After the death of Sir Nicholas Brembre, the King's uncles 
saw that, since all those whom they hated and wished to re- 
move from the King's council were dead or in exile, so that no 
new party could be formed, it was now necessary for the King 
and the kingdom to be put back on a sound footing. Althougli 
they had killed or driven out the men mentioned, they did not 
want to deprive the King of his sovereignty, but to guide liim 


BOOK THREE (1386-8) 

along the right road, for his own honour and that of the 
country. They therefore said to the Archbishop of Canterbury : 
*Archbishop, you must go down to Bristol in full state and, 
when you find the King, explain the measures which have 
been taken in his kingdom and the present state of affairs. 
Recommend us to him and tell him plainly, from us, not to 
credit any different account of the facts. He has swallowed too 
much false information already, to the dishonour and preju- 
dice of himself and his realm. And tell him that we request 
him - as do the good people of London - to come back here. 
He will be made welcome and received with joy. And wx will 
provide him with such counsellors that he wdll be fully 
satisfied. . . .' 

The Archbishop travels to Bristol and ivith some difficulty per- 
suades the King to return with him to London. As promised, Richard 
is given a hearty welcome, to which his response is cold. 

It was decided to hold a general assembly of Parliament at 
Westminster, to which were summoned all the prelates, 
earls, barons, knights, the councillors of the cities and towns, 
and all the fief-holders who held or would hold their posses- 
sions from the King. The reason was this: the Archbishop 
of Canterbury had shown in council that, when Richard had 
been crowned as their sovereign and the oath had been sworn 
and homage paid to him by his subjects, he had still been under 
age. By right a king should be twenty-one before he can exer- 
cise sovereignty over his territory or rule a kingdom. Before that 
age, he must be guided by his uncles or other near relations, 
or by his men. The Archbishop went on to say that, since 
the King had now come of age, it would be advisable, for 
greater certainty, for all his vassals to renew their oath to him 
and recognize him as their sovereign. 

This recommendation of the Archbishop's was adopted by 
the King's uncles and the members of the palace council, and 
accordingly all the nobles, knights, prelates and leading men 
of the towns were summoned to London. All came without 
fail. London and the Palace of Westminster were filled with 
crowds of people. King Richard went to the chapel of the 
palace, a fine and noble building, in royal state and wearing the 



crown. Divine service was taken by the Archbishop of Canter- 
bury, who celebrated a solemn mass. Afterwards he preached a 
sermon which was listened to with great interest, for he w^as an 
excellent preacher. 

After mass the King's uncles kissed the King in sign of 
homage as his vassals and fief-holders, swearing perpetual 
allegiance to him. Next the earls and barons took the same 
oath and also the prelates and his dependent land-holders. 
They did homage in the customary way, with their hands 
clasped, kissing the King on the lips. It was easy to see by 
watching this ceremony which ones the King kissed readily 
and which not. Although he kissed them, they were not all to 
his liking; but he had to go through with it in order not to go 
against the ruling of his uncles. However, if he had had the 
upper hand of them, he would not have done so, but would 
have exacted vengeance for the execution of Sir Simon 
Burley and his other knights who had been taken from him 
and put to death undeservedly. . . . 

So England returned to a normal state. But for a long time 
after the King was not master in his council. It was controlled 
by his uncles and the barons and prelates named above. ^ 

I . The inaccuracies in this section, in the light of modern historical re- 
search, are too numerous to list. They bear on the order of events, the 
various meetings of Parliament, Richard's whereabouts at certain times, 
the battle near Oxford (Radcot Bridge), the dates and circumstances of the 
deaths of the King's knights. Burley, Tresilian, Brembre, John Beauchamp 
and John Salisbury were in fact executed, but all by decision of the so- 
called Merciless Parliament in 1388, near the end of the story. The general 
picture so vigorously presented by Froissart remains valid, however, in 
broad outline. 


John of Qaunfs Gxpedition to Spain {i^S6-'f) 

John of Gaunt ^ Duke of 'Lancaster, had a claim to the throne of 
Castile through his second iv if e Constance, daughter of 'Peter the Cruel. 
In 1^86 he landed an army in Galicia and captured several towns, 
including Orense. King John of Portugal, to whom he had married 
his elder daughter, came to his support. But progress was slow and the 
Castilians, who ivere supported by the French, delayed giving battle. 

So those two great lords and their armies were in Galicia. 
They stripped the country of food. The days grew hotter and 
hotter, until no one dared to go out riding after nine o'clock 
unless he wanted to be scorched by the sun. The Duke and 
Duchess and the ladies^ remained in Orense, but their men 
were quartered in the country, where there w^as a great scarcity 
of everything to provision them and their horses. No grass 
could grow, nor any other eatable thing, so hard and dry 
and sunbaked was the earth. Anything that did come up with- 
ered quickly because of the excessive summer heat. To get 
supplies, the English had to send their servants and foragers 
anything up to sixty miles before they found them. . . . 

When the knights and squires saw how dangerous the 
situation might become, and the shortage of foodstuffs, and 
the increasing strength of the sun, they began to grumble and 
their complaints ran through the army: *This campaign is 
shaping badly. We stay too long in the same place.' *True,' 
said others. 'Two things tell against us particularly. We are 
taking women with us and they always want to sit about. 
After one day on the move they need a couple of weeks' rest. 
That's been a great drag on us so far and will go on being. 
If we had advanced quickly as soon as we had landed at 
Corunna, going straight forward from there, we should have 
done well and have subdued the whole country, with no one 
attempting to resist us. But the long stops we have made have 

I . The Duchess of Lancaster had accompanied the expedition with her 
daughter and suite. 



helped the enemy. They have strengthened their defences 
and brought men-at-arms from France to guard their towns 
and castles and block the river-crossings. They will defeat us 
without giving battle. They don't need to fight us. This 
Spanish land is not a pleasant one, agreeable to campaign 
across as France is with all those big villages, that rich country, 
those cool rivers, lakes and pools, mild and palatable wines 
to give new strength to fighting men, and that temperate 
climate. Everything is different here.' 

' What was the Duke of Lancaster thinking of,' said others, 
' when he planned a big campaign yet brought his wife and 
daughter with him? It has held us back, all to no purpose. 
All Spain already knows - and others also - that he and his 
brother Edmund are married to the heiresses of this country, 
the daughters of King Peter. As for the campaign and the 
capture of towns, cities and castles, the ladies are not much 
help there.' 

The English and Portuguese eventually advance together and find 
a ivay across the Duero. They approach Medina del Campo, where 
King Juan of Castile is established, awaiting a further promised 
reinforcement of French troops under the Duke of Bourbon. 

The Duke of Lancaster and the King of Portugal held the 
country round Medina del Campo, though they would have 
liked to hold the towns to rest and refresh themselves in them, 
for whichever way their foragers went they found nothing. 
Moreover, for fear of attacks and ambushes, they only dared 
to go out in large companies. When they rode about the district 
of the Campo and saw from a height or a distance what looked 
like a large village, they were glad and went towards it in the 
hope of finding provisions and booty. But when they got 
there they found only walls and ruined houses, with not a dog 
or a cat or a cock or a hen or a man or woman among them. 
Everything had been wrecked and despoiled by the French 
themselves. So their effort and time were wasted and they 
went back to their commanders having accomplished nothing. 
Their horses were lean and weak for lack of proper food, and 
fortunate indeed when they found grass to eat. They could 
hardly be ridden, having become so sickly that they died on 


BOOK THREE (1386-8) 

the road of heat and exhaustion. Like them, some of the greatest 
lords there were desperately ill with fevers and shivering-fits. 

However, a contingent of English knights decide to take the best 
of the remaining horses and ride over to ]/illalpando to make an 
attack on the French force which is garrisoned there under Olivier 
du Guesclin, the brother of Bertrand, now dead. 

After the morning drink one day they left their army and 
rode, as though foraging, towards Villalpando. They came to 
the stream which runs below the town and spurred their 
horses across it. The alarm was given in the town and the 
report spread through streets and houses that the English 
were at the barriers. Knights and squires armed themselves 
briskly and gathered in front of the Constable's house, while 
grooms saddled the horses and brought them there to their 
masters. The Constable, Sir Olivier du Guesclin, tried to re- 
strain them from sallying out but could not; they were too 
eager. Mounted on the finest horses, fresh and in good con- 
dition, they went out, thirsting to fight the EngHsh. When these 
had done as they intended by riding up to the town and saw 
that the French were getting ready to come out at them, they 
went back across the stream and drew up in good order on a 
wide stretch of sand which is there. They were about three 
bowshots away from the stream. At them came the knights and 
squires of France shouting their battle-cries and gripping 
their lances. The English wheeled round in a body, lowered 
their lances and clapped their spurs to their horses. And then, 
I can tell you, there was a hard, stiff joust and several were 
stretched on the sand, from both sides. Things would not have 
ended there, after a single joust, without more fighting when 
the lance-work was over. But the dust from the loose sand 
rose beneath the horses' hooves and became so thick that they 
could not see each other or distinguish friend from foe. Their 
horses were covered and choked with dust and so were the 
men, until they could hardly breathe and their mouths were 
full of sand. 

In such conditions they broke off the engagement. The 
English re-formed to the sound of their rallying cries, while 
the French did the same and went back to Villalpando. There 



were no more casualties on either side. The farthest the English 
got in that day's sally was just three miles beyond Villalpando. 
Then they returned to their quarters and disarmed. Some bore 
arms that day for the last time, for sickness seized them, heats, 
fevers and chills, of which in time they died. 

The Duke of Lancaster was at his wits' end and often 
weighed down by anxiety. He saw liis men - the best of them 
- exhausted and ill and taking to their beds, while he himself 
felt so weary that be lay in his bed without moving. Yet from 
time to time he would get up and do his best to seem cheerful, 
so as not to discourage his men. . . . 

The summer wore on and the sun rose higher in the sky 
and the days became marvellously hot. It was around mid- 
summer, when the sun is in his strength and pride, especially 
in those countries of Spain and Granada and the kingdoms 
far from the regions of the north. Since the beginning of April 
no moisture had descended on the earth, neither rain nor dew, 
and the grass was burnt brown. The English ate quantities of 
grapes when they could get them, because they were refresh- 
ing and juicy, and then they drank those strong wines of 
Lisbon and Portugal to quench their thirst. But the more they 
drank the hotter they became, for the wines burnt their 
livers and lungs and all the entrails of their stomachs, being 
quite foreign to their natural diet. The English live on mild- 
flavoured food and good, heavy ales which keep their bodies 
humid. Now they had dry, sharp wines and drank copiously to 
forget their sorrows. The nights there are hot, after the heat 
of the previous day, but near dawn the air suddenly grows 
cold. This caught them unawares, for at night they could not 
bear to have a blanket over them and slept naked because 
heated by the wine. Then came the morning chill which 
struck through their whole bodies, giving them sickness and 
fever and afflicting them with dysentery,^ of which they in- 
evitably died. It was the same with barons, knights and squires 
as with humble people. 

These are the fortunes of war. It must be said that the Duke 

I . The word could not be known to Froissart. More literally, ' the belly- 


BOOK THREE (1386-8) 

of Lancaster in Castile would never have lost so many good 
men in battle as died of illness in that campaign. He himself 
nearly died of the epidemic. Sir John Holland, who was acting 
as Constable of the army, and to whom all arguments and re- 
criminations were brought and who saw his fellow-soldiers 
infected with that sickness from which none recovered, heard 
the mounting complaints of one and all, gentry and com- 
moners, every day, louder and angrier, running like this: 
'Our lord of Lancaster has brought us to Spain to die. Curses 
on this campaign! He seems to want to make sure that no 
Englishman in future will ever wish to serve him abroad. He is 
trying to kick against the pricks. He wants his men to guard 
the land he has conquered, but w^ho will guard it when they 
are all dead ? He shows no sign of knowing how to conduct a 
campaign. When he saw that the enemy refused to fight us, 
why didn't he withdraw in time, to Portugal or somewhere 
else, and avoid the losses he must suffer - for we shall all die 
of this beastly plague without striking a blow\' 

l^ancaster agrees to disband his army and sue for peace. The out- 
standing problems are the care of the sick and their eventual return to 
England. Emissaries are sent to King Juan of Castile, who gives them 
this reply through his Chancellor, the eloquent bishop of Astorga : 

'Knights of England representing the Duke of Lancaster 
and sent here on his Constable's orders, give ear to this. The 
King's answer is that, through kindness and pity, he is willing 
to grant his enemies every favour possible. When you return 
to your Constable, you will tell him, in the name of the King of 
Castile, to have it proclaimed throughout his army to the 
sound of trumpets that this kingdom is open and ready to re- 
ceive sick and wounded, knights and squires, and their 
followers; on condition that at the gates of the towns and 
cities in which they desire to enter or lodge they should lay 
down all their arms; there they will find men appointed for 
the task who will lead them to their lodgings ; all their names 
will be written down and taken to the governor of the town, 
with the object that none who enter shall be allowed to return 
to Galicia or Portugal for any purpose whatsoever; but shall 
leave as soon as they are able, after having obtained from His 



Majesty the King of Castile a safe-conduct to pass unmolested 
through the kingdoms of Navarre and France on their way to 
Calais or any other port or haven which they care to choose, 
whether on the coast of Brittany, of Saintonge, of La Rochelle, 
of Normandy, or of Picardy. And the King's stipulation is 
that all who undertake that journey, knights and squires, to 
whatever nation they belong, shall not take up arms for the 
term of six years, for any cause, against the kingdom of Cas- 
tile. This they will solemnly swear on receiving the safe- 
conducts they will be given. All that I have now said will be 
put into unsealed letters which you will take back to your 
Constable and his companions who have sent you here.' 

The terms are accepted by the Hnglish. 

The news soon spread through the army that the Duke of 
Lancaster was freely giving leave to all who wished to go. 
Those who felt weak and ill and desired a change of air went 
off as quickly as they could, taking leave of the Duke and the 
Constable. Before they left their accounts were settled. They 
were paid in good solid cash or else given such generous 
promises that they were satisfied. They left in their battalions 
and companies. Some went to Villalpando, some to Kiielles,^ 
some to Vi lie lope, ^ some to Naya, some to Medina del Campo, 
some to Castrojeri2, others to Sahagun. Everywhere they 
were well received, were given lodgings, and their names were 
taken down by the governors of the towns in the way already 
described. Most of the nobles went to Villalpando because it 
was garrisoned by foreign mercenaries, Bretons, French, 
Normans and Poitevins, under the supreme command of Sir 
Olivier du Guesclin, acting as Constable of Castile. The Eng- 
lish still had more confidence in these than in the Spaniards, 
not without reason. In this manner the Duke of Lancaster's 
army in Castile was disbanded in that summer and each one 
fended for himself. . . . 

At Villalpando there died three great English barons, im- 
portant and well-known men. First was Sir Richard Burley, 
who had been chief Marshal of the Duke's army and, besides 
him, the Lord of Poynings and Sir Henry Percy, first cousin 
I. Sic Froissart. Perhaps Roa and Villalon. 


BOOK THREE (1386-8) 

of the Earl of Northumberland. In the town of Naya there 
died Sir Maubrin de Linieres, a very gallant and experienced 
knight from Poitou; and, at Kuelles^ a great Welsh baron. 
Lord Talbot. There died in all of the epidemic, in various 
places, twelve English barons, at least eighty knights, and 
over two hundred squires, all good gentlefolk; and of others, 
archers and so forth, more than five hundred. I was assured by 
an English knight with whom I talked on his way back from 
there through France, Sir Thomas Queensberry ^ by name, that 
out of fifteen hundred men-at-arms and a full four thousand 
archers whom the Duke of Lancaster had led out from England 
not more than half returned, or even fewer. . . . 

The sickness attacked no one except the Duke of Lancas- 
ter's men. There was no sign of it among the French, and for 
that reason there was much grumbling among them and also 
among the Spanish, who said : ' The King of Castile has per- 
mitted these English to rest and recover in his country and his 
tow^ns. But it might prove very costly for us if they started a 
fatal epidemic in this country.' Others answered: 'They are 
Christians like ourselves. We must have compassion on one 

I. Froissart: Quinebery. 


The "Battle of Otterburn {Q^jevy Qhase) (1^88) 

You know how troubled the realm of England had been in 
the recent past, with King Richard against his uncles, and his 
uncles against him. As we have already related, the Duke of 
Ireland received the principal blame for these occurrences, as a 
consequence of which several knights had been beheaded in 
England and the Archbishop of York, the brother of Lord 
Neville, had almost lost his see. By order of the new royal 
council, controlled by the King's uncles and the Archbishop 
of Canterbury, Lord Neville, who had guarded the frontier in 
Northumberland for five years against the Scots, drawing 
sixteen thousand francs a year from the borough of York and 
the bishopric of Durham, had been dismissed from his post. 
His place was taken by the Earl of Northumberland, Henry 
Percy, who kept the border for eleven thousand francs a year, 
to the envy and indignation of the Neville family, neighbours 
and relations of the Percies though they were. 

The Scots were well aware of this and their barons and 
knights decided one day to bring together an army and launch 
an expedition into England. They knew that the English were 
divided among themselves and, having received so many 
buffets from them in the past, they felt that this was the time 
to give a good one back. To keep their intentions secret, they 
arranged to hold a festival on the borders of wildest Scotland, 
in a city called Aberdeen, to which most of the Scottish chiefs 
went. There it was agreed that in the middle of August of that 
year 1388 they would all meet, each with his force of men, near 
the borders of Galloway ^ at a castle deep among the forests 
called Jedburgh, and on that understanding they dispersed. 
It should be added that they said nothing to their King about 
the decision they had come to, but ignored him entirely. They 
said among themselves that he had no idea of warfare. 

I. Froissart: Galles. This is his regular name for south-west Scotland, 
and including part of Cumberland. 


BOOK THREE (1386-8) 

The Scottish lords assemble at Jedburgh. Among them are James 
Ear J oj Douglas^ John Ear/ of Moray, the Earl of March and Dunbar, 
William Earl of Fife, John Earl of Sutherland, William Earl of 
Mar, Sir Archibald Douglas, Sir William and Sir James Eindsay 
and others. 

Never, over the past sixty years, had so many good fighting 
men been gathered together. They were a full twelve hundred 
lances and forty thousand men, counting the archers. But the 
Scots do not trouble much about the use of the bow. In- 
stead, they carry axes on their shoulders and in battle they 
approach at once. With these axes they deal some very hard 

When those lords were all assembled around Jedburgh, 
they were in high spirits. They said that they would not go 
home before they had ridden down into England and gone so 
far that it would be talked of for twenty years to come. In 
order to decide more exactly which way they would go and 
how they would proceed, these barons, who were the com- 
manders of all the rest of the people, fixed a day to meet in a 
church on a moor above the forest of Jedburgh, known locally 
as Zedon.^ 

The English in Northumberland know that the clans are gathering. 
They had already sent ' heralds and minstrels'' to spy on the festival at 
Aberdeen. They now send another spy to Jedburgh. 

This English squire did so well that, without being noticed, 
he reached the church at Zedon, where the Scottish leaders were, 
and went in among them, as though he were a servant follow- 
ing his master. There he learnt a great deal about their plans 
and at the end of their conference was ready to get away. He 
went to the tree to which he had tied his horse, expecting to 
find it. But it was not there, for some of the Scots are great 
thieves and one of them had made off with it. He dared not 
say anything, but set out on foot, booted and spurred. When 
he had gone about two bow-shots from the church, he passed 
some Scottish knights who were talking together. The first 
to notice him said : ' Wonders will never cease. I see a man all 

I . Froissart : Zedon and Zoden. Conjectured by Sir Walter Scott to have 
been Kirk-Yetholm. 



by himself who appears to have lost his horse, and has said 
nothing about it ! I don't see how he can be one of our people. 
Now get after him, and see whether I'm right.' 

Some squires immediately rode after him and quickly caught 
him up. When he saw them on top of him he lost his head and 
wished he could just disappear. They surrounded him and 
asked him where he came from and where he was going, and 
what he had done with his horse. He began to contradict him- 
self and could not answer their questions. They turned him 
back, saying that he would have to talk to their leader, and so 
he was taken into the church and brought before Earl Douglas 
and the others. These at once saw that he was English and 
began to interrogate him. They wanted to know who had 
sent him, but he was unwilling to say. However, he was pressed 
so hard that he revealed ever^'thing, for he was told that, if he 
would not speak, his head would be cut off without mercy; 
but that if he did speak, he need have no fear of death. To 
save his life, he admitted that it was the barons of Northumber- 
land who had sent him, in order to discover the strength of 
their forces and which way they intended to go. When they 
heard this, the Scots were jubilant and felt they would not have 
missed capturing him for a thousand marks. 

He was then asked where the Northumbrian barons were, 
whether there were signs that they were about to take the 
field, and which road to Scotland they intended to follow, 
the one along the coast through Berwick and Dunbar, or the 
higher road through the County of Montres ^ leading towards 
Stirling. His answer was: 'My lords, since I have to tell the 
whole truth, I will do so. W^hen I left them at Newcastle-on- 
Tyne, there were no signs yet of their moving out. But they 
are equipped and ready to leave from one day to the next. But 
when they hear that you are on the move and have crossed the 
border, they will not come to meet you directly because they 
are not numerous enough to fight the great army which you 
are said to have assembled.' 'And what are our numbers said 
to be in Northumberland ? ' asked the Earl of Moray. 'It is said, 

I. This name has been conjectured to be Menteith, since Montrose is 


BOOK THREE (1386-8) 

sir,' the squire replied, 'that you have at least forty thousand 
men and twelve hundred lances. So, to counter you, if you 
take the Galloway ' road, they will take the Berwick road, to 
reach Dalkeith and Edinburgh through Dunbar. And if you 
come down that way, they will make for Carlisle and get into 
Scotland through the mountains.' 

When the Scottish lords heard this, they fell silent and 
looked at one another. 

Their decision is to divide their forces. The main body, with the 
supply- train, will make for Carlisle. A smaller force under the Harl 
oj Douglas, made up of three to four hundred lances and two 
thousand archers and ''strong serving- men"" {clansmen), all ?nounted, 
will take the Newcastle road. 

When the Earl of Douglas, the Earl of Moray and the Earl 
of March and Dunbar, the three leaders, had separated from 
the main army, which went on its own way, they prepared to 
go towards Newcastle, cross the Tyne by a ford nine miles 
from there which they knew well, enter the Bishopric of 
Durham, and push on as far as the city. Then they would come 
back, burning and wasting the country, and would camp out- 
side Newcastle in the face of the English. They did as they 
had planned, moving at a good pace under cover of the terrain 
and not stopping to plunder or to attack keep, castle or house. 
They entered Lord Percy's lands, crossed the Tyne unimpeded, 
and reached the Bishopric of Durham, which is good country. 
Once there, they began to make war, killing people, burning 
towns and wreaking much destruction. 

The English assemble their forces at Newcastle. Their leader, the 
Earl of Northumberland, sends his two sons there, Henr)' Percy the 
younger (Hotspur) and Ralph. He himself remains at Alnwick, with 
the idea of cutting ojf the Scots on their return. 

The three Scottish earls came away from Durham, as they 
had intended, and halted outside Newcastle for two days. 
There was skirmishing during most of each day. The Earl of 
Northumberland's sons, two keen young knights, were always 
the first in these skirmishes before the gates and barriers. 
There was much skilled fighting with lance and sword and on 

1. Sec p. 335, note. 



one occasion there was a long hand-to-hand combat between 
the Earl of Douglas and Sir Henry Percy. By force of arms the 
Earl captured Sir Henry's pennon, to his great annoyance and 
that of the other English, and Douglas said to him : ' I shall 
take this piece of your trappings back to Scotland and put it up 
on my castle at Dalkeith, right at the top, so that it can be seen 
a long way off. ' ' By God,' said Sir Henry, ' you shall never get it 
out of Northumberland. You can count on that, so don't 
boast about it.' 'All right,' Earl Douglas then said, 'come and 
get your pennon back tonight. I will plant it in front of my 
tent and we'll see if you can take it away from there.' 

It was now late in the day, so the skirmishing ceased. The 
Scots withdrew to their camp, disarmed, and had a meal. 
They had plenty of food, and as much meat as they wanted in 
particular. They kept good watch that night, expecting to be 
roused up because of the words which had been exchanged. 
But they were not disturbed, since Sir Henry's men advised 
him against it. 

The next day the Scots decamped from outside Newcastle 
and started on the road back to their own country. They came 
to a place called Ponteland, governed by Sir Raymond 
Delaval, a good Northumbrian knight. They halted there - it 
was still early morning - and learnt that the knight was in his 
castle. They prepared to assault it and attacked with such 
vigour that they captured the castle and the knight inside it. 
They burnt down the castle and the town and went on to the 
town and castle of Otterburn, eight miles from Newcastle,^ 
where they halted and took up their quarters. 

The castle is assaulted on the next day, but not captured. Most of 
the Scots are in favour oj going on to rejoin their main force at Car- 
lisle, but James Douglas wishes to remain at Otterburn and make 
another attempt on the castle. The delay will also give Henry Percj 
a chance to recover his pennon, if he so desires. 

I. Elsewhere, Froissart has 'seven miles' and 'six miles' ('English 
leagues ' and ' short leagues '), whereas Otterburn is thirty-two miles from 
Newcastle by the modern road. The mistake is curious since, as Froissart 
says later, his description of the battle is based on eye-witness accounts of 
men who took part in it. These must have ridden the distance, and the 
considerable discrepancy is hard to explain. 


BOOK THREE (1386-8) 

All the others gave in to the Earl of Douglas, both for their 
own honour and out of regard for him, for he was the greatest 
among them. They settled down comfortably and peacefully, 
no one hindering them, and built a large number of shelters 
from trees and leaves. They protected themselves by making 
skilful use of some big marshes which are there. On the way in 
between these marshes, on the Newcastle side, they quartered 
their serving-men and foragers. They placed all their cattle in 
the marshland. Then they made great preparations to assault 
the castle again on the next day, for such was their intention. 

English scouts obtain a clear picture of the Scottish movements and 
numbers. Thej report to Nejpcastle that this is not the main army^ 
but a comparatively small force, Henry Percy, who can muster about 
three times the Scots^ numbers, decides to follow them at once without 
waiting for the considerable force which the Bishop of Durham is 
bringing up to support him. 

Having assembled, they left Newcastle in the late afternoon 
and set out in good order on the same route which the Scots 
had taken to Otterburn, seven miles ^ from there along a good 
road. But they could not move fast because of the foot- 
soldiers who were with them. 

While the Scots were sitting over supper - though many 
had already gone to bed, for they had had a hard day attacking 
the castle and meant to get up early to assault it again in the 
cool of the morning - suddenly the English fell upon their 
encampment. When they first came to it, they mistook the 
quarters of the servants, near the entrance, for those of the 
masters. So they raised their cry of 'Percy! Percy! ' and began 
to break into that part of the camp, which was quite strong. 
You know what a great commotion there is at such moments, 
and it was very fortunate for the Scots that the English made 
their first attack on the serving-men for, although these did 
not hold out long, it gave the rest of them good warning of 
what to expect. Their commanders therefore sent up a num- 
ber of their strongest servants and foot-soldiers to keep the 
English busy, and meanwhile armed themselves and formed up, 
every knight and man-at-arms under the banner or pennon of 
I. See previous note, p. 339. 


their captains, and thence under the earls whom they were to 
follow, each of whom had his own command. Night was now 
falling fast, but there was a moon and it was fairly light. It was 
in August and fine and cloudless, and the air was calm and 

When the Scots had formed up noiselessly in the order I 
have described, they left their encampment. Instead of ad- 
vancing directly ahead to meet the English face to face, they 
skirted round the marshes and a hill which was there. They 
enjoyed the great advantage of having prospected the terrain 
during the whole of the previous day, when the most ex- 
perienced among them had discussed it and said: 'If the 
English tried to surprise us in our quarters, we would go that 
way, and do this and so on.' It was this that saved them, for it 
is a great thing for men-at-arms who are exposed to a night 
attack to know the ground round them thoroughly and to have 
already concerted their plans. 

The English soon overcame the servants who had met their 
first onrush. But as they went farther into the encampment, 
they constantly ran into fresh men coming up to fight and 
hinder them. And suddenly there were Scots on their flank, 
having come round as I described, who charged down on the 
English like one man, shouting their battle-cries all together 
and taking them completely by surprise. The English rallied 
and closed up, seeking a position on firm ground and shout- 
ing: 'Percy!' in reply to the 'Douglas!' of the Scots. A fierce 
battle began, with prodigious lance-thrusts and men on both 
sides hurtling to the ground in this first clash. Because the 
English were in great numbers and eager to beat the enemy, 
they stood their ground and pushed, driving back the Scots, 
who were very near to defeat. Earl Douglas, who was young, 
strong and spirited, and eager to win distinction in arms, ig- 
nored the knocks and the danger and had his banner brought 
forward, shouting 'Douglas! Douglas!' Sir Henry Percy and 
his brother Ralph, who were so angry with the Earl because of 
the loss of their pennon outside Newcastle, made towards him, 
shouting their own cry. Great feats of arms were performed 
when the two bannerets and their men found themselves 


BOOK THREE (1386-8) 

face to face. As I said, the English were in such strength 
and fought so well at this first stage, that they drove the Scots 
back. Two Scottish knights who were there, called Sir Patrick 
Hepburn and his son, also named Patrick, fought splendidly 
alongside their commander's banner. But for them, it would 
certainly have been taken. But they defended it so stoutly, 
thrusting and dealing such mighty blows until more of their 
men could come to the rescue, that they and their heirs are 
still held in honour for it. 

I was told by some who took part in the battle in person, 
knights and squires on both the English and Scottish sides 
(for in the year after the battle I met at the Count of Foix's 
court at Orthez two gallant squires belonging to the Count's 
domain and family, Jean de Castelnau and Jean de Cantiron, 
who had been with the English ; and also when I was back in 
Avignon in that same year I met a Scottish knight and two 
squires of the household of Earl Douglas ; I recognized them 
for what they were and they recognized me by the true facts 
which I could tell them about their country ; for, in my younger 
days, I, the author of this chronicle, travelled widely about the 
kingdom of Scotland and spent at least a fortnight in the 
household of Earl William Douglas, the father of the Earl 
James of whom I am now speaking, at a castle fifteen miles 
from Edinburgh called Dalkeith, and I had seen Earl James 
as a fine-looking boy, and a sister of his called Blanche ; so I 
received my information from both sides, all within the year 
in which the battle had been fought, and all their accounts 
agreed) - well, they told me that it was a pretty tough business 
and as well fought as any battle could be, and I could easily 
believe them; because English on the one hand and Scots on 
the other are fine fighters and when they meet in a clash of 
arms, they don't spare themselves. There is no playing about. 

Earl James Douglas saw that his men were falling back, 
so, to recover the lost ground and show his warlike qualities, 
he took a two-handed axe and plunged into the thickest 
of the fight, clearing a way in front of him and breaking 
into the press. None was so well protected by helm or plate 



as not to fear the blows he dealt. He went so furiously forward, 
as though he was a Trojan Hector expecting to win the battle 
single-handed, that he ran into three lances which pierced him 
all at the same time, one in the shoulder, one in the chest just 
above the pit of the stomach, and one in the thigh. He could 
not avoid these thrusts or parry them and was borne to the 
ground, very badly wounded. Once down he did not get up 
again. Some of his knights were following him, but not all. 
It was too dark and they had only the moon to see by. . . . 

The English went on, paying little attention to him, merely 
supposing they had felled some man-at-arms, because else- 
where the Earl of March and Dunbar and his men were 
fighting courageously and giving them plenty to think about. 
In following the Douglas battle-cry, they had come up against 
the two sons of Percy and there they were, thrusting and strik- 
ing and slashing. In another place the Earl of Moray with his 
banner and his men was fighting fiercely, harrying the English 
they encountered and giving them so much to do that it was 
almost more than they could manage. . . . 

The Earl of Northumberland's sons. Sir Henry and Sir 
Ralph Percy, were putting all they had into the battle. Near 
the spot where the Earl of Douglas fell. Sir Ralph Percy came 
to grief. He advanced so far among the enemy that he was 
surrounded and severely wounded. Gasping for breath, he 
was taken prisoner and pledged to ransom by a knight called 
Sir John Maxwell, belonging to the clan and household of 
the Earl of Moray. In demanding his parole the Scottish 
knight asked him who he was, for it was too dark to recognize 
him. Sir Ralph Percy was so badly hurt that he could do no 
more; he was growing weaker and weaker through loss of 
blood. He said: 'I am Ralph Percy.' The Scot said: 'Sir 
Ralph, rescued or not, I pledge you as my prisoner. I am 
Maxwell.' 'Right,' said the other, *I agree. But have me seen 
to. I am very badly wounded. My chausses and my greaves ^ 
are full of blood already.' 

At that moment the Scottish knight heard the cry of 
'Moray! The Earl!' very close at hand and saw the Earl and 
I. Pieces of leg-armour. 


BOOK THREE (1386-8) 

his banner right beside him. So he said to him: 'Look, my 
lord, I am giving you Sir Ralph Percy as a prisoner. But have 
him attended to. He is badly wounded.' Very pleased at this, 
the Earl told him: 'Maxwell, you have certainly earned your 
spurs.' He made his men open their ranks and take charge of 
Sir Ralph, whose wounds they staunched and bandaged. The 
battle continued to rage fiercely and it was still uncertain who 
would have the best of it. Many captures and rescues were 
achieved, not all of which came to light. 

Now to go back to the young Earl of Douglas, who had 
done great deeds that night. When he had fallen, with a great 
press of fighting-men round him, he could not get to his feet 
because of the mortal lance-wound he had received. His men 
were following him as closely as they could, and Sir James 
Lindsay, a cousin of his, with Sir John and Sir Walter Sinclair 
and other knights and squires came up to him. They found 
beside him one of his knights who had kept with him through- 
out, and a chaplain of his who was there not as a priest but as 
a worthy man-at-arms, for he had followed him all night 
through the thick of the battle with an axe in his hand. This 
doughty warrior was laying about him near the Earl, keeping 
the English back with the great blows he dealt them with his 
axe, for which service the Scots were truly grateful. It earned 
him great renown and in the same year he became archdeacon 
and canon of Aberdeen. The name of this priest was William 
of North Berwick. It is a fact that he was a tall, finely built 
man - and brave, too, to do what he did. Nevertheless, he was 
severely wounded. 

When those knights reached the Earl, they found him in a 
very bad way, and also the knight I mentioned who had fol- 
lowed him so closely, one Sir Robert Hart, who was lying 
beside him with five wounds from lances and other weapons. 
Sir John Sinclair asked the Earl how it went with him. 
'Pretty badly,' said the Earl. 'But God be praised, not many 
of my ancestors have died in their beds. I ask you this: try to 
avenge me. I know I'm dying, my heart keeps stopping so 
often. Walter, and you, John Sinclair, raise my banner again' 
(it was indeed lying on the ground, with the gallant squire 



who bore it dead beside it; this was David Colleime,^ who had 
refused to become a knight that day although the Earl had 
wished to dub him because wherever he fought he had been 
an outstandingly good squire), * raise my banner/ he said 'and 
shout Douglas ! And tell neither friend nor foe of the state I 
am in. If our enemies knew of it they would be encouraged, 
and our friends would lose heart.' 

This is done and the battle continues. The English begin to give 

The fighting passed beyond where the Earl of Douglas was 
lying, now dead. In the final big clash. Sir Henry Percy came 
face to face with the Lord of Montgomery, a very gallant 
Scottish knight. They fought each other lustily, untroubled by 
any others, for every knight and squire on both sides was 
hotly engaged with an opponent. Sir Henry Percy was handled 
so severely that he surrendered and pledged himself to be the 
Lord of Montgomery's prisoner. 

The English finally give way and many more are taken prisoner. 
The rest flee back towards Newcastle. 

It should be repeated that the English and Scots, when they 
meet in battle, fight hard and show great staying-power. They 
do not spare themselves, but go on to the limits of endur- 
ance. They are not like the Germans, who make one attack 
and then, if they see that they cannot break into the enemy 
and beat him, all turn back in a body. Not so the English and 
Scots, who order things differently. They stand their ground 
in the battle, dauntlessly wielding axes and other weapons for 
as long as their breath lasts. And when they surrender to each 
other according to the law of arms, they treat their prisoners 
well without pressing too hard for money, behaving chival- 
rously to one another, which the Germans do not. It would be 
better for a knight to be captured by infidels, out-and-out 
pagans or Saracens, than by the Germans. These constrain 
gentlefolk in doubly harsh confinements with iron or wooden 
fetters, chains and other prison instruments beyond all reason 
and moderation, by means of which they injure or weaken a 
man's limbs to extort more money. To tell the truth, the 
I. Conjectured to be Campbell. 


BOOK THREE (1386-8) 

Germans are in many ways outside all reasonable laws and it is 
surprising that others will associate with them or allow them 
to practise arms beside them, as the French and English do. 
These behave chivalrously, and have always done so, but the 
Germans neither do nor wish to. 

Meanwhile^ the Bishop of Durham has reached Neivcastle with a 

force composed largely of levies. He sets out from the city late at night 

in support of the Percies, but turns back after meeting fugitives with 

news of the defeat. Next daj, he feels that honour demands that he 

should try again. 

When the Scottish barons and knights installed at Otterburn 
received news that the English were approaching, the most 
experienced of them met together to consult. Several possi- 
bilities were discussed but, after full consideration, it was de- 
cided to stay where they were and await the outcome, since 
they could not expect to find a better and stronger place. They 
had a large number of prisoners, whom they could not take 
with them unless they w^ere able to move freely, and there 
were also a number of wounded among both their own men 
and the prisoners, whom they did not want to leave behind. 
By now, too, it was broad daylight and a clear morning, so 
that they had a good view around and ahead of them. 

They assembled like the experienced soldiers they were and 
so positioned themselves that they could only be attacked along 
a single line of approach. They placed their prisoners on one 
side and caused all their servants, pages and grooms to be 
armed, for they had arms in plenty taken from the defeated 
enemy. This they did to make it appear to the English that 
their numbers were greater than they really were. They then 
made their prisoners promise - among them were many 
knights and squires - that they would remain their prisoners 
whether rescued or not. After that their buglers were told to 
blow and they sounded one of the loudest fanfares ever heard. 

I should explain that it is the Scottish custom, when their 
men have gathered like this, for all the foot-soldiers to carry 
horns slung from their necks like a huntsman's. When they 
all blow them together, some high, some full, some on a 
middle note, and the others at their own choice, they make 



such a noise, with the big drums which they also have, that the 
sound carries at least four miles by day, and six by night. It 
gives them a tremendous thrill and strikes terror into their 
enemies. Their leaders ordered them to play like this and mean- 
while drew them up in excellent order, placing the archers and 
servants at the entry to the encampment in a strong posture of 

When the Bishop of Durham and his force, consisting of 
quite ten thousand men of one kind or another, commonfolk 
and levies - there were few gentry, since these had already 
gone with Sir Henry Percy - were about three miles from 
Otterburn, the Scots began to blow their horns and bang their 
drums, so that it sounded as though the devils of hell were 
racketing there with them. The approaching force, knowing 
nothing of this Scottish practice, were thoroughly scared. 
The din and horn-blowing went on for a long time, and then 
stopped. When the English came within about one mile of 
them, they again began to sound their horns as loud and long 
as before, and then stopped. The Bishop approached with his 
men in battle-order and halted in full view of the Scots some 
two bow-shots away. Once again the Scots blew their horns 
loud and clear and then stopped, but the echo went rolling 
round for a considerable time. The Bishop of Durham stood 
there looking at them and noting how they were drawn up, 
with their flanks protected and themselves closely massed in an 
order and position which gave them a great advantage. He 
consulted with a few knights who were there as to what they 
should do. I understand that, having considered and appreci- 
ated the situation, they decided not to launch an attack, and 
turned back without taking action. It was clear to them that 
they had more to lose than to gain. 

I was told by those on the Scottish side who were at that 
battle fought between Newcastle and Otterburn on 19 August,^ 
1388, that one thousand and forty of the English of various 
ranks were taken prisoner, and eighteen hundred and sixty 
killed, on the field or in the pursuit, with more than a thousand 
I. According to other sources, 5 August. 


BOOK THREE (1386-8) 

wounded. Of the Scots, about a hundred were killed and two 
hundred taken prisoner in the pursuit when the English were 
retreating. If these saw an opportunity, they turned back and 
fought with their pursuers. The only Scots to be captured 
were taken in this way, not in the battle. 

You can judge what an outstanding and hard-fought battle 
this was by the number who were killed and captured on both 
sides, though one came off worse than the other. 




Queen Isabella s Entry into ^aris {i^Sp) 

Four years after her marriage to Charles 1/7, a ceremonious recep- 
tion in the capital was arranged for the young Queen. Froissart was 
an eye-witness of the festivities he describes. 

On Sunday, 20 August 1389, there were such crowds of 
people in Paris and its outskirts that it was wonderful to see 
them. In the afternoon of that day the great ladies who were 
to accompany the Queen assembled in the town of Saint- 
Denis, and with them the nobles who were to escort their 
litters and that of the Queen. There were also twelve hundred 
citizens of Paris, all drawn up on horseback on the two sides of 
the road and dressed uniformly in tunics of green and crimson 
silk. The first to enter Paris were Queen Jeanne and her 
daughter the Duchess of Orleans.^ They travelled in covered 
litters with a large escort of gentlemen. Passing along the Rue 
Saint-Denis, they came to the Palace, where the King was 
awaiting them. They went no farther on that day. 

Then the Queen of France set out with the other ladies : 
the Duchess of Berry, the Duchess of Burgundy, the Duchess 
of Touraine, the Duchess of Bar, the Countess of Nevers, the 
Lady de Coucy and all the others, in order of precedence. 
Their litters were all similar, and so richly decorated that 
nothing was lacking. The Duchess of Touraine, however, 
had no litter, to distinguish her from the others, but was 
mounted on a palfrey with very rich trappings and rode at a 
walking-pace on one side of the road. The horses drawing the 
litters and the nobles accompanying them all went at a walk. 

The Queen's escort was headed by the Duke of Touraine 

and the Duke of Bourbon. After them came the Dukes of 

I. Sic Froissart, but Jeanne de Bourbon, the Queen Mother, had died in 
1377 and he can only be referring to the young King's step-great-grand- 
mother, Blanche de Navarre, widow of Philip VI, who was still alive and 
took an active part in organizing the ceremonial. The then Duchess of 
Orleans, Blanche de France, was not her daughter but her step-daughter- 

BOOK FOUR (1389-1400) 

Berry and Burgundy, one riding on each side, while Sir Pierre 
de Navarre and the Count of Ostrevant brought up the rear. 
The Queen's Utter was an open one with extremely rich 

[Next came the various ladies of royal blood, with their 
escorts.] Of the other ladies who followed them, in covered 
carriages or on palfreys, there is no need to speak, nor of the 
knights who rode behind them. But I should say that the 
serjeants-at-arms and the King's officers had hard work to 
clear a way through the crowds. The streets were so thronged 
that one might have thought that the whole population had 
been summoned out. 

At the first Gate of Saint-Denis, which is the entry to Paris 
and is called the Bastide, there was the representation of a 
starry sky, and in this small children dressed as angels sang 
softly and harmoniously. Among them, acted by living people, 
was a person representing Our Lady, holding a baby in her 
arms. The baby was playing with a little mill made out of a 
large walnut. The starry canopy was high and richly em- 
blazoned with the arms of France and Bavaria, with a shining 
gold sun which darted out its beams. This gleaming sun was 
the King's emblem for the festivities and the jousts. The Queen 
and the ladies looked at these things with great pleasure as they 
came through the gate, and so did everyone else when they 
passed by there. 

After seeing this, the Queen and the ladies moved on slowly 
to the fountain in the Rue Saint-Denis, which was draped with 
a fine azure cloth embroidered with golden fleurs-de-lys, while 
the pillars surrounding it were decorated with the arms of 
some of the principal nobles of France. From the fountain 
flowed streams of excellent honied and spiced wine, and all 
round it stood young girls very richly dressed, wearing hand- 
some golden hats and singing very tunefully. It was a sweet 
and delightful thing to hear. In their hands they held cups and 
goblets of gold, in which they offered wine to all who wished to 
drink. When she came up to them, the Queen halted to look 
at them and expressed her pleasure at the sight, as did all the 
others who saw them. 


QUEEN Isabella's entry into paris 

Next, outside the Church of the Trinity, a raised platform 
had been set up overlooking the street. On it was a castle, and 
disposed along the platform was the tournament of King 
Saladin, w^ith all the participants, the Christians at one end 
and the Saracens at the other. There were men impersonating 
all the famous knights who had fought at Saladin's tournament 
equipped with the arms and armour which were used at that 
time.^ A little way from them was a person representing the 
King of France, with the twelve peers of France round him all 
wearing their arms. As the Queen's litter came opposite the 
platform. King Richard (Lionheart) stepped forward from 
among his companions, went up to the King of France, and 
asked permission to attack the Saracens. When it had been 
given, he went back to his twelve companions who drew up in 
battle order and immediately moved to the attack of Saladin 
and his Saracens. A fierce mock battle took place, which 
lasted for some time and delighted the spectators. 

The procession then passed on to the second Gate of Saint- 
Denis, where a castle had been set up, as at the first gate, and a 
heaven full of stars with a representation of God the Father, 
the Son and the Holy Spirit, sitting there in majesty. In this 
heaven young choir-boys dressed as angels were singing very 
sweetly. As the Queen passed beneath it in her litter, the gates 
of paradise opened and two angels came out and began to 
descend. They held in their hands a magnificent crown of gold 
set with precious stones, and this they set gently on the 
Queen's head, at the same time singing these lines : 

Lady with the lilied gown. 
Queen you are of Paris town. 
Of France and all this fair countrie : 
Now back to paradise go we. 

After this, the lords and ladies saw on the right-hand side of 
their route, in front of the Chapel of Saint-Jacques, another 
platform covered with finely woven cloth and curtained like a 

I. Saladin's tournament was a mock batde, evidently traditional in 
Froissart's time, representing a perhaps legendary feat of arms by Richard 
Cceur de Lion and twelve knights during the Third Crusade. 


BOOK FOUR (1389-I400) 

private room. In it were men playing an organ very melo- 
diously. And the whole of the Grand'Rue Saint-Denis was 
roofed over with camlet and silk, as sumptuously as though 
cloth could be had for nothing or as though this had been 
Alexandria or Damascus. 

And I, the author of this book, who witnessed all these 
things myself, could only wonder where they had come from 
when I saw them in such abundance. All the houses on both 
sides of the Grand'Rue Saint-Denis as far as the Chatelet, and 
indeed down to the Grand Pont de Paris, were covered and 
hung with tapestries depicting various scenes, which it was 
pleasant and entertaining to look at. And so, at walking-pace, 
the ladies in their litters and the lords who escorted them came 
slowly to the gate of the Chatelet. There they halted to see 
another magnificent spectacle. Before the gate of the Chatelet 
a wooden castle with watchmen's turrets had been set up, 
built strongly enough to last for forty years. At each of the 
look-out slits was a man-at-arms in full armour and inside the 
castle was a bed curtained and hung as richly as if it had be- 
longed to the King's own chamber. This bed was called the 
bed of justice, and on it, represented by a living person, lay 
our lady St Anne. 

In the courtyard of the castle, which was extremely spacious, 
there was a rabbit-warren with great heaps of branches and 
foliage, and inside those a large number of hares, rabbits and 
birds which kept flying out and going back again, for fear of 
the crowd. Then from among the foliage, on the side from 
which the procession was coming, a big white stag came out 
and made towards the bed of justice. From the other side 
came excellent imitations of a lion and an eagle, which ad- 
vanced fiercely towards the stag and the bed. Then there 
appeared from among the branches a dozen young maidens, 
wearing golden caps and carrying drawn swords in their 
hands. They placed themselves between the stag and the 
eagle and the lion, and showed that they intended to protect the 
stag and the bed of justice with their swords. The Queen and 
the lords and ladies watched this scene with delight, then went 
on towards the Grand Pont, which was decorated so mag- 


QUEEN Isabella's entry into paris 

nificently that it could not have been done better. It was draped 
with red and green silken cloth and covered with a starry 
canopy. The streets were hung and decorated right up to the 
Cathedral of Notre-Dame. When the ladies had crossed the 
bridge and were approaching Notre-Dame, it was already 
late, for ever since they had set out from Saint-Denis the 
litters and their escorts had moved only at walking-pace. 

Before the Queen entered the Cathedral, she saw another 
sight which gave her great pleasure, as it did to all who wit- 
nessed it. It was this : 

A full month before the Queen's entry into Paris, a skilful 
master engineer from Geneva had fastened a rope to the top 
of the highest tower of Notre-Dame. This rope, which was of 
great length, passed high above the roofs and was fixed at the 
other end to the tallest house on the Pont Saint-Michel. As the 
Queen and the other ladies came along the Grand'Rue 
Notre-Dame, this master, holding two lighted tapers in his 
hands (for it was now dark), came off the platform which he 
had built on the Cathedral tower and sat on the rope. Then he 
walked along it above the street, singing as he went, and all 
who saw him wondered with amazement how he could do it. 
Still holding the two lighted tapers, which could be seen all 
over Paris and for several miles beyond, he performed all 
kinds of acrobatic tricks, winning much applause for his skill 
and agility. 

In the square in front of the Cathedral the Bishop of Paris 
was waiting in his ceremonial vestments, together with the 
whole body of the clergy. The Queen descended from her 
litter, aided by the four Dukes who were with her: Berry, 
Burgundy, Touraine and Bourbon. Similarly the other ladies 
were helped down from their litters, and those who were on 
horseback from their palfreys. They then moved into the 
Cathedral in order of precedence, headed by the Bishop and 
clergy singing the praises of God and the Virgin loud and 

The Queen was escorted through the church and the choir 
up to the high altar, where she knelt down and said prayers 
of her own choice, and offered to the treasury of Notre-Dame 


BOOK FOUR (1389-I400) 

four cloths of gold and the crown which the angels had placed 
on her head as she entered Paris. Immediately after, Sir Jean 
de La Riviere and Sir Jean Le Mercier offered her a consider- 
ably richer crown which they held in readiness, and this was 
placed on her head by the Bishop of Paris and the four dukes 
of her escort. 

When this had been done, the procession moved back 
through the Cathedral, and the Queen and the ladies were 
helped up again into their litters. Around them now were more 
than five hundred tapers, since it was night. In this state they 
were led back to the Palace where the King was waiting for 
them, with Queen Jeanne and her daughter the Duchess of 
Orleans.' Here the ladies were taken, in order of rank, to 
the rooms reserved for them, but the lords did not go home 
until after the dancing. 

On the next day, which was Monday, the King gave a 
dinner at the Palace for the ladies, of whom there were a great 
number. But first the Queen was escorted by the four dukes 
already named to high mass in the Sainte-Chapelle of the 
Palace. During mass she was consecrated and anointed, as a 
Queen of France should be. The Archbishop of Rouen, who 
at that date was Guillaume de Vienne, officiated. 

After mass had been solemnly sung, the King and Queen 
went back to their rooms in the Palace, and all the ladies re- 
tired to theirs. Soon afterwards, the King and Queen entered 
the banqueting-hall, followed by the ladies. 

I should say that the great marble table which is always in 
the Palace and is never moved had been covered with an oak 
top four inches thick, on which the dinner was laid. Behind 
this great table, against one of the pillars, was the King's 
sideboard, large, handsome and well arranged, covered with 
gold and silver plate. Many an eye looked covetously at it on 

I. See note, p. 351. According to the Grande s Chroniques de France, the 
young King had gone out incognito earlier in the day to watch his wife's 
entry. Mingling with the crowd, he had received some hard blows from 
the sticks of police-sergeants trying to keep the way clear. He took it in 
good part. 



that day. In front of the King's table was a stout wooden 
barrier w4th three openings guarded by serjeants-at-arms, royal 
ushers and mace-bearers, whose duty it was to see that none 
came through except the serving-men. For you must know 
that the crowd in the hall was so dense that it was very diffi- 
cult to move. There were numbers of entertainers, each 
showing their skill in their different arts. The King, the pre- 
lates and the ladies washed their hands. They took their 
places at table, in this order: at the King's high table, the 
Bishop of Noyon was at one end, then the Bishop of Langres, 
then, next to the King, the Archbishop of Rouen. The King 
wore an open surcoat of crimson velvet lined with ermine and 
had a very rich gold crown on his head. Next to the King, at a 
slight distance, sat the Queen, also wearing a rich gold crown. 
Next to her sat the King of Armenia, then the Duchess of 
Berry, then the Duchess of Burgundy, then the Duchess of 
Touraine, then Madame de Nevers, then Madame de Bar, 
then the Lady de Coucy, then Mademoiselle Marie d'Harcourt. 
There were no others at the King's high table, except, right 
at the lower end, the Lady de Sully, wife of Sir Guy de La 

At two other tables, running right round the sides of the 
hall, sat over five hundred other ladies, but the crowd round 
the tables was so great that they could only be served with the 
greatest difficulty. Of the courses, which were abundant and 
excellently prepared, I need not speak. But I will say something 
of the interludes which were performed. They could not have 
been better planned, and they would have provided a delight- 
ful entertainment for the King and the ladies if those who had 
undertaken to perform had been able to do so. 

In the middle of the great hall a castle had been set up, 
twenty feet square and forty feet high. It had a tower at each 
of the four corners and a much higher one in the middle. The 
castle represented the city of Troy, and the middle tower 
the citadel of Ilium. On it were pennons bearing the arms 
of the Trojans, such as King Priam, the knightly Hector his 
son and his other children, as well as the kings and princes 
who were besieged in Troy with them. This castle moved on 


BOOK FOUR (1389-1400) 

wheels which turned very ingeniously inside it. Other men 
came to attack the castle in an assault-tower which was also 
mounted on ingeniously hidden wheels, with none of the 
mechanism showing. On this were the arms of the kings of 
Greece and other countries who once laid siege to Troy. There 
was also, moving in support of them, a beautifully made model 
ship, on which there must have been a hundred men-at-arms. 
The three things, castle, assault-tower and ship, moved about 
thanks to the skilful mechanism of the wheels. The men on the 
tower and the ship made a fierce attack on one side of the 
castle, and the men in the castle defended it stoutly. But the 
entertainment could not last long because of the great crush 
of people round it. Some were made ill by the heat, or fainted 
in the crowd. A table near the door of the parliament chamber 
was overturned by force. The ladies who were sitting at it had 
to get up hurriedly, without ceremony. The great heat and the 
stink of the crowd almost caused the Queen to faint, and a 
window which was behind her had to be broken to let in the 
air. The Lady de Coucy was also seriously affected. The King 
saw what was happening and ordered the performance to 
stop. This was done and the tables were quickly cleared and 
taken down, to give the ladies more room. The wine and 
spices were served hurriedly and, as soon as the King and 
Queen had gone to their apartments, everyone else left also. 

Now I would like to say something of the gifts which the 
Parisians presented on the Tuesday to the Queen of France 
and the Duchess of Touraine. The Duchess had lately arrived 
in France from her native Lombardy, for she was the daughter 
of the Lord of Milan and had married Duke Louis of Touraine 
this same year. Since this young lady, whose name was 
Valentine, had never been to Paris until she entered it in the 
company of the Queen, the citizens rightly owed her a warm 

At twelve o'clock on the Tuesday about forty of the most 
prominent citizens of Paris, all dressed identically, came to the 
Hotel de Saint-Pol [a royal residence on the Seine to which the 
King had moved the previous evening], bringing the Queen's 



present through the streets of Paris. It was carried on a litter 
of beautiful workmanship by two strong men disguised as 
savages. The litter had a canopy of fine silk crepe, through 
which could be seen the treasures which it contained. When 
the citizens reached the Hotel de Saint-Pol, they went at once 
to the King's room, which was open and ready for their 
reception. They were expected, and those who bring gifts can 
always be sure of a welcome. They placed the litter on two 
trestles in the middle of the room, then knelt before the King, 
saying : 

'Most dear and noble sire, to celebrate the joyous arrival of 
your Queen, your burgesses of Paris offer you all the precious 
objects on this litter.' 

'Many thanks, good people,' replied the King. 'It is a hand- 
some and costly present.' 

The burgesses rose to their feet and stepped back. Then, 
with the King's permission, they left him. When they had 
gone, the King said to Sir Guillaume des Bordes and to 
Montaigu, who were with him : ' Let us have a closer look and 
see what the presents are.' 

They went up to the litter and looked into it. This is what it 
contained : there were four gold pots, four large gold goblets, 
four gold salt-cellars, twelve gold cups, twelve gold bowls and 
six gold dishes. The whole of this plate weighed seventy-five 
pounds in solid gold. 

Meanwhile other citizens of Paris, richly dressed all in 
similar clothes, waited on the Queen, taking her present on a 
litter which was carried to her room and commending the city 
and its inhabitants to her. The present consisted of a ship 
made of gold, two large gold flagons, two gold comfit- 
dishes, two gold salt-cellars, six gold pots, six gold goblets, 
twelve silver lamps, two dozen silver bowls, six large silver 
dishes, two silver basins. The whole, both gold and silver, 
weighed a hundred and fifty pounds. The present was carried 
into the Queen's room on a litter, as I said, by two men, one 
of them dressed as a bear and the other as a unicorn. 

The third present was taken in a similar way to the Duchess 
of Touraine by two men disguised as Moors, with blackened 


BOOK FOUR (1389-1400) 

faces, rich costumes and white cloths wrapped round their 
heads, as though they had been Saracens or Tartars. . . . The 
Duchess was presented with a gold ship, a large gold pot, two 
gold comfit-dishes, two large gold plates, two gold salt- 
cellars, six silver pots, six silver dishes, two dozen silver bowls, 
two dozen silver salt-cellars and two dozen silver cups. The 
whole, counting the gold and silver together, weighed one 
hundred pounds. The Duchess was greatly pleased with the 
gift - and naturally, for it was handsome and costly. She ex- 
pressed grateful and appropriate thanks to the burgesses who 
presented it to her, and to the city of Paris which had con- 
tributed to buy it. 

Such were the gifts presented on that Tuesday to the King, 
the Queen and the Duchess of Touraine. Their great value 
was a sign of the wealth and power of the Parisians, for I, the 
author of this chronicle, who saw them, was told that their 
cost had amounted in all to more than sixty thousand gold 


qA "^yal Visitation (i^Sp) 

In ijSp /be young King Charles VI goes on an official tour of the 
south of ¥ ranee. Having passed through Burgundy, he visits Pope Cle- 
ment at Avignon, then travels through his domains in I^anguedoc. 
This region has been harshly exploited in the past by the royal dukes 
of A.njou and Berry and one object of the King's visit is to investigate 
the complaints of extortion ivhich have been brought to him. His route 
takes him from Avignon to Nimes, L.unel and Montpellier. 

The King stayed for more than twelve days in MontpelHer. 
All that he saw there, the aspect of the town and of the married 
ladies and the young ladies, the style they lived in and the 
amusements which were provided for him and his court, were 
very greatly to his liking. To tell the truth, the King was still 
completing his education, for at that time he was young and 
light-hearted. So he danced and danced the whole night long 
with the lively ladies of Montpellier. He gave splendid ban- 
quets and suppers for them and presented them with gold 
rings and clasps, to each according to his estimation of her 
worth. He did so much that he won them over completely, 
the older with the younger. And some of them would have 
wished him to stay longer than he did, for every day and 
night there were parties, dancing and entertainments, and 
always more to come. 

The King enjoyed himself for about a fortnight at Mont- 
pellier, while he and his councillors went very thoroughly 
into the affairs of the town, for that was the main object of his 
visit. When he had put everything in order with the help of 
his inner council and had removed several injustices by wliich 
the inhabitants had been oppressed, he took affectionate leave 
of the ladies and set out one morning for Lymous, where he 
dined, and then lodged for the night at Saint-Hubert. After 
his morning drink the next day he went on to Beziers, where 
he received an enthusiastic welcome. The inhabitants of that 


BOOK FOUR (1589-I400) 

town and of neighbouring places - Pe;^enas, Capestang, Nar- 
bonne - were awaiting him eagerly in order to lay complaints 
before him in person against an official of the Duke of Berry 
called Betisac who had stripped the surrounding districts of 
everything he had been able to lay hands on. Ever since the 
royal party had left Avignon, this Betisac had been riding in 
the company of the King's councillors, who never hinted that 
they were contemplating his utter destruction. They might 
have said: 'Betisac, be on your guard, for the King has re- 
ceived grave and bitter complaints against you and strict in- 
quiries are going to be made.' Instead, they welcomed him 
among them and laughed and joked with him, promising him 
many honours. He had none of these, as you shall shortly 

The King spent three days at Beziers in revels and parties 
with the ladies before Betisac was in any way accused or even 
summoned. But the examiners whom the royal council had 
appointed were inquiring secretly into his affairs. They came 
upon several damning charges against him which could not 
be overlooked. So on the fourth day of the King's visit he was 
called before the council sitting in camera and was told : ' Beti- 
sac, look at these accusations and answer them.' He was 
shown a large number of written complaints which had been 
brought to Beziers and presented to the King in the form of 
petitions. All spoke loudly of Betisac's scandalous admini- 
stration and of the impositions and extortions he had inflicted 
on the people. For some he had good and reasonable answers, 
for others not. Of the latter he said : ' I have no knowledge of 
that. Ask the Seneschals of Beaucaire and Carcassonne and 
the Chancellor of Berry.' 

Finally he was told that he must remain under arrest for the 
time being until matters were cleared up. He had no choice 
but to obey. As soon as he w^as in prison, the examiners went 
to his house and took possession of all the documents and 
accounts relating to his dealings in the past. They went 
through them very thoroughly and found that they referred 
to sums of money levied in the King's estates and domains, 



to such large amounts that the councillors were amazed when 
they were read out to them. Betisac was brought before them 
again. His papers were shown to him and he was asked 
whether all the sums of money recorded as having been levied 
in his time in the domains in question were exact, and what 
had been done with them. He replied: 'The figures are exact. 
The whole amount has been paid to my lord of Berry, after 
passing through my hands and those of his treasurers. I have 
proper receipts for all the sums paid in such-and-such a place 
in my house.' 

They sent there again, and the receipts w^ere brought and 
read to the council. They corresponded closely enough to the 
sums levied. The examiners and the council were perplexed 
and embarrassed. Sending Betisac back into nominal custody, 
they discussed the matter and said : 

'Betisac is cleared of all the charges which have been 
brought against him. He has shown that the levies of which 
the people complain have gone in full to my lord of Berry. 
What has it to do with Betisac if they have been squandered 
or misused?' 

Rightly considered, there were no flaws in Betisac's defence, 
for the Duke of Berry was the most rapacious of men and did 
not care how money was raised, so long as he got it. When he 
had funds before him he wasted them on petty things, like 
many lords now and in the past. The King's councillors could 
not see any reasons for condemning Betisac to death; at least, 
some could not, but there were a certain number who argued 
thus : ' Betisac has practised so many cruel extortions and has 
impoverished so many communities to satisfy the Duke of 
Berry that the blood of these unhappy people cries out against 
him and demands his death. Since he was in the confidence of 
the Duke of Berry and knew of the people's poverty, he 
ought to have quietly remonstrated with him. If the Duke had 
refused to listen, he should have come before the King and 
his council and told them of the people's misery and of the 
way the Duke was treating them. Measures would have been 
taken, while Betisac would have been fully exonerated of the 
misdeeds with which he is charged now.' 


BOOK FOUR (1389-I400) 

So Betisac was brought again before the council sitting 
//; camera. They questioned him very closely to discover what 
had happened to all the money he had handled, for the 
total was found to amount to three million francs. His reply 
was: *My lords, it is impossible for me to know exactly. 
The Duke spent a great deal on buildings and repairs to 
his castles and houses, on the purchase of estates from the 
Count of Boulogne and the Count of fitampes, and on 
jewelry. As you know, he bought such things very freely. 
Also, he spent money to maintain the great state in which 
he always lived, and then he gave to Thibault and Morinot 
and his servants round him, so that they have all become 

*And you yourself, Betisac,' said the council. 'You have 
been well rewarded for your labours and services, since 
you have had a hundred thousand francs for your own 

*My lords,' replied Betisac, 'what I have had was with my 
lord of Berry's full consent, for he likes his servants to grow 

Then the council answered as one man: *Ah, Betisac, that 
was a rash thing to say. It is neither right nor reasonable to 
grow rich on ill-gotten gains. You must go back to prison 
while we deliberate on what you have told us. You will await 
the decision of the King, before whom we shall lay all you 
have said in your defence.' 

*My lords,' said Betisac, 'may it rest in God's hands.' 

He was taken back to prison and left there, without appear- 
ing again before the council, for a full four days. 

When news of the inquiry and of Betisac's imprisonment 
began to spread, and with it the rumour that any man who 
had a grievance against him was to come forward, people 
from the surrounding country flocked into Beziers and, ask- 
ing their way to the King's quarters, lodged grave and bitter 
accusations against Betisac. Some complained that he had 
wrongfully deprived them of their inheritances, others that 
he had misused their wives and daughters. I must say that, 



when so many new charges were brought against him, the 
councillors grew weary of hearing them, for the growing 
number of complaints showed how fiercely the people hated 
him. Yet, considered rightly, he had earned this hatred by 
carrying out the wishes of the Duke of Berry and filling his 
master's purse. The councillors did not know what to do, 
since two knights had been sent by the Duke, the Lord of 
Nantouillet and Sir Pierre Mespin, bearing letters of credence 
to the King. These knights took responsibility, on the Duke's 
behalf, for all that Betisac had done in the past, and the Duke 
called upon the King and his council to hand over his man 
and treasurer to him. 

The King now hated Betisac because of the outcry and 
the various infamous reports which were current about 
him. He and his brother were anxious that he should die, 
saying that he well deserved to. Yet the council dared not 
condemn him for fear of angering the Duke. They said to the 

'Sire, since my lord of Berry takes responsibiUty for all 
Betisac's acts, whatever they were, we cannot see that he has 
justly deserved death. At the time when he was at work in 
this region, imposing taxes and levying tolls, my lord of 
Berry, on whose behalf he was acting, had sovereign author- 
ity here, just as you have now. But one thing could be done 
to punish the crimes of which he is accused. We could seize all 
his goods and rents, reducing him to the state he was in when 
my lord first appointed him, and use them to make restitution 
to the poor people in those districts which he has exploited 

In short, Betisac was on the point of being set free, though 
at the price of losing his fortune, when events took a new 

I cannot be certain without having known the man whether 
he was as he described himself, but he now declared that he 
had long been a heretic and was guilty of a most extraordinary 
and deplorable thing. According to the account which I heard, 
some men came to visit him by night and said, in order to 
frighten him : 


BOOK FOUR (1389-1400) 

'Betisac, your case is going very badly. The King, his 
brother and his uncle the Duke of Bourbon are so mortally 
angry with you because of the many complaints which have 
been made against your harsh administration of Languedoc 
that all three condemn you to be hanged. You cannot escape 
by giving up your possessions. They have been offered to the 
King, but his reply was that your fortune is his and your per- 
son also, and you will not be left in this prison much longer. 
We know what we are saying, for you are to be taken out 
tomorrow, and by all appearances you will be sentenced to 

Betisac was greatly alarmed when he heard this. He said to 
those who were speaking to him : 

*Ah, Holy Virgin! Can nothing be done to prevent 

'Yes,' they said. 'Tomorrow morning say that you wish to 
be heard by the King's council. Either they will come to you 
here or they will send for you. When you are before them, 
say: "My lords, I fear I have offended God greatly, and it is 
because of His anger that this misfortune has befallen me." 
They will ask you in what way you have offended. You will 
say that you have long erred against the faith and that you 
firmly hold a certain opinion. When the Bishop of Beziers 
hears this, he will claim you as his prisoner. You will im- 
mediately be handed over to him, because the examination of 
such cases belongs to the Church. You will be sent before the 
Pope in Avignon, but once you are there no one will bring 
a charge against you, for fear of my lord of Berry. The Pope 
himself would not dare to cross him. If you do as we suggest, 
neither your nor your fortune will suffer. But if you stay in 
your present situation and have not got out of it by tomorrow, 
you will be hanged. The King hates you because of the public 
outcry against you.' 

Betisac believed these deceitful arguments, for when a man 
goes in fear of death he hardly knows what he is doing. He 
answered: 'You are true friends to give me such sound ad- 
vice. May God reward you. The time will yet come when I 
shall be able to show you my gratitude.' 



They went away, leaving Betisac in prison. 

When morning came, he called the gaoler and said : ' Friend, 
I must ask you to send for so-and-so and so-and-so,' (naming 
the men who were investigating his case). 'Certainly,' replied 
the gaoler. The examiners were told that Betisac was asking 
for them. They went to the prison, perhaps already knowing 
what he intended to tell them. When they arrived, they 
asked: 'What is it that you have to say to us?' He 
replied: 'Noble sirs, I have been looking into my acts and 
conscience, and I fear that I have greatly offended against 
God. I cannot believe that there is such a thing as the Trinity, 
or that the Son of God ever abased himself so low as to 
come down from heaven into the mortal body of a woman. 
And I believe and declare that our soul ceases to exist when 
we die.' 

'Now, by the Holy Virgin,' said the examiners, 'you err 
very gravely against the Church. Your words call for the fire. 
Think what you are saying.' 

'I do not know,' replied Betisac, 'whether my words call 
for fire or for water. But I have held these opinions since I 
reached the age of understanding, and shall hold them till the 

The examiners refused to hear anything more for the mo- 
ment, and perhaps they were delighted by w^hat they had al- 
ready heard. They gave strict orders to the gaoler to allow no 
one in to speak to Betisac, so that he should have no oppor- 
tunity of retracting, then they went to the King's councillors 
to tell them the news. When the councillors heard it, they 
waited on the King, who was just rising from bed. The King 
was astonished and said: 

'It is our will that he should die. He is an evil man, a 
heretic and a robber. Our will is that he should be burnt 
and hanged, for then he will have his deserts. He shall 
certainly not be pardoned or spared to please our fine uncle 
of Berry.' 

It became known in the city of Beziers and the surrounding 
districts that Betisac had confessed of his own free will that 


BOOK FOUR (1389-1400) 

he was a heretic and had long held the opinion of the Bulgars,' 
and that the King intended to have him hanged and burnt. 
Beziers was filled with rejoicing crowds, so greatly was the 
man detested. The two knights w4io had been sent to claim 
him for the Duke of Berry heard the news. They were aston- 
ished and did not know what to make of it. Sir Pierre Mespin 
reflected and said: 'My lord of Nantouillet, I fear that Betisac 
has been betrayed. Someone must have secretly advised him 
to say this horrible thing, giving him to understand that he 
will be handed over to the Church and sent to Avignon. The 
fool! He has been badly misled. We can hear people saying 
what the King means to do with him. We must go at once to 
the prison and get him to change his plea.' 

The two knights left their hostelry and went to the prison, 
where they told the gaoler that they wished to speak to Beti- 
sac. The gaoler made excuses, saying : ' Sirs, I have received 
strict orders from the King - and so have these four serjeants- 
at-arms who have been sent here under special instructions - 
to allow no one to see him, on pain of death. We dare not go 
against the King's orders.' 

The knights saw at once that there was nothing more they 
could do and that Betisac was lost. They returned to their 
hostelry, called for their bill, paid it, then mounted their 
horses and rode back to the Duke of Berry. 

The end of Betisac w^as this. The next day on the stroke of 
ten he was taken from the prison to the Bishop's palace where 
the Bishop's legal officers were assembled, together with all 
those of the King. The Bailiff of Beziers handed over his 
prisoner to the Bishop's people with these words : 

'This is Betisac. We deliver him to you as a Bulgar and a 

heretic, and a rebel against the faith. If he were not a clerk in 

holy orders we should have dealt with him as his acts deserve.' 

I. Bulgares or Bougres, whence buggers through the accusation of 
sodomy: name given to the Albigenses of south-west France. Though 
savagely suppressed in the Albigensian Crusade of the previous century, 
the heresy persisted in the local background. Its adherents were Mani- 
cheists. They denied the divinity of Jesus and the doctrine of the Trinity 
and rejected baptism by water. Believing that the Kingdom of Heaven is 
in this world, they also denied the immortality of the soul. 



The ecclesiastical judge asked him if he was such as the 
Bailiff described him and if he was prepared to admit the fact 
in public. Thinking that it was in his own interest and that his 
confession would save him, Betisac answered: 'Yes.' He was 
asked the same question three times, and three times he ad- 
mitted his guilt for all to hear. It is strange that a man should 
be so deceived and deluded, for if he had kept his mouth shut 
except about the charges on which he had been arrested, no 
harm would have come to him and the Duke of Berry's war- 
rant would have set him free. But it must be supposed that 
Fortune played him this trick, so that when he thought he 
was most securely seated on top of her wheel, she spun him 
down into the mud - as she has done to thousands of others 
since the world began. 

He was delivered back by the ecclesiastical judge into the 
hands of the Bailiff, who exercised temporal authority for the 
King, and the Bailiff immediately had him taken to the square 
outside the palace. Betisac was hustled so fast that he had no 
chance of arguing or recanting, and when he saw the fire 
prepared in the square and found himself in the hands of the 
executioner he was struck dumb with terror, seeing clearly 
that he had been betrayed. At last he cried out that he wanted 
to be heard, but no attention was paid to him. He was told: 
'Betisac, it is decreed that you shall die. Your evil acts have 
brought you to this evil end.' 

They hustled him on. The fire was ready. A gibbet had been 
set up in the square, and at the foot of it a stake with a heavy 
iron chain. Another chain hung from the top of the gibbet 
with an iron collar attached. This collar, which opened on a 
hinge, was put round his neck, then fastened and hauled up- 
wards so that he should last longer. The first chain was wound 
round him to bind him more tightly to the stake. He was 
screaming and shouting : ' Duke of Berry, I am being wronged! 
They are killing me without cause ! ' 

As soon as he w^as secured to the stake, great heaps of fag- 
gots were piled against it and set on fire. They flamed up 
immediately. So was Betisac hanged and burnt, and the King of 
France could have seen him from his window if he wanted to. 


BOOK FOUR (1389-1400) 

By Betisac's miserable end the people were avenged on 
him. It is true that he had done them great harm by his extor- 
tions in the time when he administered Languedoc. 

After Be^iers, the King visits Carcassonne, Narbonne and other 
places, before coming to Toulouse. Here he is joined by Gaston 
Phoebus of Foix, travelling in almost rojal state. The Count does 
homage to the King of France and tries to settle the succession of part 
of his domains on his bastard son Yvain, in return for a promised 
legacy of 1 ,0 francs to the King. He is given a guarded answer. 

Acting on the advice which he had received, the King said 
this to the Count and barons of Foix : 

'I hold in my hand the homage made for the domain of 
Foix, and if it should happen that in our time the title becomes 
vacant through the death of our cousin the Count of Foix, we 
will then decide the matter so justly, according to the best 
advice we are given, that Yvain de Foix and all the men of 
Foix will be contented.' 

This assurance was quite satisfactory to the Count of Foix 
and the barons and knights of Foix who were present there. 

Soon afterwards, it was decided that the King should leave 
Toulouse and make his way back to France. All his followers 
made their arrangements accordingly, while the Archbishop 
of Toulouse, the citizens and the ladies of the place went to 
take their leave of him. He left the city one morning after his 
drink and lodged that night at Castelnaudery, then pressed on 
until he reached Montpellier, where he had a joyous w^elcome. 
He relaxed there for three days, for this was the town which 
had pleased him so much, with its maids and its ladies; yet he 
very much wanted to get back to Paris and see the Queen. 
It so happened that, while chatting idly with his brother, the 
Duke of Touraine, he said : ' Brother, I wish that I and you 
were in Paris at this moment, leaving all our followers here, 
just as they are. I feel a great desire to see the Queen, and you 
no doubt to see your duchess.' 'Sire,' replied the Duke, 'we 
aren't in Paris. It's too far off to get there just by wishing it.' 
'You are right,' said the King. 'Yet I have an idea that I could 
soon really be there if I wanted to.' 'By hard riding, then,' 



said the Duke. 'That's the only way. So could I, but it would 
be a horse that would take me.' 'All right/ said the King. 
'Which of us will get there first, I or you? Let's have a bet 
on it.' 'It's a bargain,' said the Duke, who was quite ready to 
exert himself to win the King's money. 

They made a wager of five thousand francs on which of 
them would reach Paris first, both to start at the same time 
on the next day. Each was to take only one ser^^ant with him, 
or a knight in place of a servant, for that was how it turned 
out. No one raised objections to the wager, and they both 
got on their horses as arranged. With the King was the Lord 
of Garencieres as his sole attendant. The Duke of Touraine 
had the Lord of La Viefville with him. Those four keen young 
men continued riding night and day or, when they felt like it, 
had themselves taken on in carriages to give themselves a rest. 
Of course they made several changes of horses. 

So the King of France and his brother of Touraine rode 
forward with all their energy, each striving to win the other's 
money. Think of the discomforts those two rich lords en- 
dured through sheer youthful spirits, for they had left all their 
household establishments behind. The King took four-and-a- 
half days to reach Paris, and the Duke of Touraine only four- 
and-a-third ; they were as close to each other as that. The Duke 
won the bet because the King rested for about eight hours 
one night at Troyes, while the Duke went down the Seine by 
boat as far as Melun, and from there to Paris on horseback. 
He went to the Hotel de Saint-Pol, where the Queen and his 
own wife were, and asked for news of the King, not knowing 
whether he had arrived ahead of him or not. When he learnt 
that he was not there yet, he was very pleased indeed and said 
to the Queen: 'Madam, you will soon be hearing something 
of him.' He was quite right, for not long after the King came 
in too. When his brother saw him, he went to meet him and 
said: 'Sire, I've won the bet. Have the money paid to me.' 
'Yes, you have won,' said the King. 'You shall be paid.' 

Then they described their w^hole journey to the ladies, say- 
ing where they had started from and how, in four-and-a-half 


BOOK FOUR (1389-1400) 

days, they had come all that way from Montpellier, which is a 
good four hundred and fifty miles from Paris. The ladies 
treated the whole thing as a joke, but they did realise that it 
was a great feat of endurance, such as only the young in body 
and heart would have attempted. I should add that the Duke 
of Touraine insisted on being paid in hard cash. 


Tournament at Saint-lnglevert {i^po) 

While Charles ]/I was in the south of France, three French knights, 
Boucicattt the younger, Kegnault de Roje and Jean de Sempy, had 
issued a challenge inviting all comers to meet them in a friendly trial 
of arms near Calais. The challenge was directed particularly at Eng- 
land, with which country a three-year truce had recently been con- 
cluded. Part of the formal invitation ran: 

'. . . and we beg all those noble knights and foreign squires 
who are willing to come not to imagine for a moment that 
we are doing this out of pride, hatred or malice, but in order 
to have the honour of their company and to get to know them 
better, a thing which we desire with our whole hearts. And 
none of our shields shall be covered with iron or steel, nor 
shall the shields of those who come to joust against us. Nor 
shall there be any other unfair advantage, fraud, trickery or 
evil design, nor anything not approved by those appointed 
by both sides to guard the lists.' 

At the beginning of the merry month of May, the three 
young knights of France named above were fully prepared 
for the trial of arms they were to hold at Saint-lnglevert and 
which had been announced in France, England and Scotland. 
They came first to Boulogne-sur-mer, where they stayed for 
a certain number of days, and then went on to the Abbey of 
Saint-lnglevert. There they were delighted to learn that a 
large number of knights and squires had come across from 
England to Calais. In order to hurry things forward and let 
the English know they were ready, they had three large and 
luxurious crimson tents set up in due form at a spot between 
Calais and Saint-lnglevert. At the entrance to each tent were 
hung two shields emblazoned with the arms of the particular 
knight, one a shield of peace and the other a shield of war. ^ 

1. The 'peace' arms sometimes used in tournaments were lighter and 
less lethal than those used in actual war. This applied particularly to the 


BOOK FOUR (1589-1400) 

The understanding was that whoever wished to run a course 
against any of them should touch one of the shields, or send 
someone to touch it, or both shields if he liked. He would then 
be provided with the opponent and the choice of joust he had 
asked for. . . . 

On 21 May, in accordance with the proclamation w^hich had 
been made, the three French knights were in readiness, with 
their horses saddled and equipped, as the rules of the tourna- 
ment required. On the same day, all those knights and squires 
who wished to joust, or to watch the jousting, set out from 
Calais and rode to the appointed spot, where they drew up on 
one side of the lists. It was a wide and spacious stretch of 
ground with a level surface of good grass. 

Sir John Holland (Earl of Huntingdon) began by sending 
one of his squires to knock on the war shield of my lord 
Boucicaut. Boucicaut came out of his tent in full armour, 
mounted his horse, and took up a shield and then a stout 
lance with a good steel point. The two knights rode to their 
separate ends and, having eyed each other carefully, they 
clapped spurs to their horses and came together at full speed. 
Boucicaut hit the Earl of Huntingdon in such a way that he 
pierced his shield and slid the point of his lance right over 
his arm without wounding him. Both knights rode on 
and stopped neatly at the end of their course. This joust 
was much admired. At the second lance they hit each other 
slightly, but did no damage, and at the third the horses 

The Earl of Huntingdon, who was jousting with relish and 
had warmed to the work, rode back to his mark and waited for 
Boucicaut to take up his lance again; but he did not do so and 
made it clear that he had finished jousting for that day so far 
as the Earl was concerned. Seeing this, the Earl sent a squire 
to knock on the w^ar shield of the Lord of Sempy. He, who 
would never have refused a challenge, immediately came out 
of his tent, mounted his horse and took up his shield and lance. 

lance, which in its 'peace' form had a head consisting of three blunt prongs 
in place of the sharp-pointed blade of the war lance. 



When the Earl saw that he was ready and eager to joust, he 
clapped his spurs to his horse, while Sempy did the same. They 
lowered their lances and came straight at one another, but just 
as they met, the horses crossed. They hit each other neverthe- 
less, but because of the unfortunate crossing, the Earl was 
unhelmed. He returned to his own men and was quickly re- 
helmed and handed his lance. The two knights spurred for- 
ward and met this time with straight lances, hitting each other 
clean and hard on their shields. Both were nearly knocked to 
the ground, but they gripped their horses with their legs and 
stayed on. Each went back to his own end to rest a little and 
get his breath back. Sir John Holland, always eager to perform 
with honour in the lists, took up his lance again and gripped 
his shield tight and spurred his horse on. \5(rhen Sempy saw him 
coming, he did not hold back but rode towards him in the 
straightest possible line. The two knights hit each other with 
their war lances on the steel helms, striking them so clean and 
hard that sparks flew from them. In this clash Sempy was un- 
helmed. The two knights passed very briskly on, then rode 
back each to his own end. 

This joust was very highly applauded, and both French and 
English said that all three knights, the Earl of Huntingdon, 
my lord Boucicaut and the Lord Sempy, had jousted admir- 
ably, without either sparing themselves or causing each other 
an injury. The Earl of Huntingdon asked to be allowed to 
run another lance for the love of his lady, but this was not 
permitted him. 

Froissart goes on to describe the whole of the rest of the tournament, 
encounter by encounter and lance bj lance, using very similar terms 
throughout. In the four days over which the jousts lasted, more than 
forty challengers measured themselves against the three French 
knights, who remained unbeaten. In all one hundred and thirty-six 
lances are described, of which the following are a small further 

Next, a gallant knight of great spirit, John of Beaumont in 
England, came forward and sent a squire to rap on my lord 
Boucicaut's shield. That knight was not slow to respond, for 
he was already mounted on his horse, having jousted a short 


BOOK FOUR (1389-I400) 

time before with Sir Lewis Cliflford. He took his shield and his 
lance and placed himself in position for jousting. The two 
knights spurred their horses hotly forward and came at each 
other. Lord Beaumont did not handle his lance well and struck 
Boucicaut a glancing blow, but Boucicaut struck him squarely 
on the middle of his shield and knocked him off his horse and 
then passed on. The English knight got up and, with the help 
of his men, was put back on his horse. The Lord Sempy then 
came forward to joust with him. They ran two lances very 
prettily without hurting one another. 

Next came forward Sir Godfrey Seton, a gallant knight and 
a good j ouster. He showed plainly, by the way he sat on his 
horse holding his lance, that he was eager to joust. He sent 
one of his squires to rap on the war shield of Sir Regnault de 
Roye. That knight responded, for he was ready mounted on 
his horse, with his shield at his neck. He took his lance and 
put himself in good jousting posture. The two knights 
spurred forward simultaneously and came together as 
squarely as they knew how, striking a violent blow on each 
other's shields. Their lances were stout and did not break, 
but curved up, and the powerful thrusts by strong arms 
stopped the horses dead in their tracks. Both knights then 
went back to their own ends, without dropping their lances, 
which they carried freely in front of them before putting them 
again in the rests. Then they spurred their horses, which were 
good, strong and tough. They came again at each other, but 
crossed just as they met, through the fault of the horses, not 
of the riders. As they passed by each other to ride round to 
their own ends again, they dropped their lances. They were 
picked up by ready hands and given back to them. When they 
had them, they put them in the rests and spurred their horses, 
showing that they did not mean to spare themselves, for they 
had warmed to the work. The English knight hit Sir Regnault 
de Roye very hard near the top of his helm, but did no other 
damage to him; Sir Regnault hit him on the shield with such 
a firm, powerful thrust, delivered with so strong an arm - for 
he was one of the strongest and toughest j ousters in France at 


that time and also he was truly in love with a gay and beauti- 
ful young lady, and this contributed greatly to his success in 
all his undertakings - that his lance pierced the left-hand side 
of the English knight's shield and went straight into his arm. 
As it did so, the lance broke, the longer part falling to the 
ground and the shorter part remaining in the shield with the 
steel point in the arm. Nevertheless, the Englishman com- 
pleted his ride round and came back very briskly to his own 
end. His friends attended to him. The lance head was pulled 
out and the wound staunched and bound up, while Sir Keg- 
nault de Roye went back to his people and waited there, lean- 
ing on another lance which they had given him. 

For this joust Sir Regnault was greatly admired by his own 
side, and equally by the English. Although he had wounded 
the other knight, not a single abusive remark was made to him, 
for such are the hazards of arms. One man comes off well, the 
other badly. And also they were jousting with the full arma- 

An English squire and good jouster called John Savage 
came forward ; he was a squire of honour of the bodyguard of 
the Earl of Huntingdon. He sent a man to rap on the war 
shield of Sir Regnault. The knight, who was waiting ready 
armed inside his tent, came out eager to joust and mounted 
his horse. His shield was buckled on, he took his lance and 
placed it in the rest. Both men spurred at full speed towards 
each other until they met. They hit each other full on the 
centre of their shields, with such force that one or both must 
have fallen if the shields had not split. 

This was a fine and dangerous encounter, although the 
j ousters suffered no injury. After piercing the shields, their 
lances glanced off sideways, breaking off about one foot from 
the blades, which remained fixed in the shields, while the two 
men passed on with the broken shafts. The onlookers feared 
that they had wounded each other badly, and each side hur- 
ried to their man, but were glad to find that neither had suf- 
fered harm. They were told that they had done enough for 
that day, but John Savage was not satisfied by this, saying that 


BOOK FOUR (1389-1400) 

he had not crossed the sea merely to run one lance. When this 
remark was repeated to Sir Regnault de Roye, he said 'He 
is quite right. It is proper for him to be fully satisfied either 
by me or my companions-in-arms.' They were got ready again 
and given new shields and lances. When each was in position 
on his mark, they eyed one another and clapped spurs to their 
horses simultaneously. They lowered their lances as they ap- 
proached and expected to meet squarely, but were prevented 
by their horses running across. So they missed with their 
second lance, to their great annoyance, and returned each to 
his own end. Their lances, which they had thrown dow^n in 
disgust, were handed back to them, and they put them in the 
rests, looked carefully at one another and spurred their horses 
forward. This time they hit each other on the helms, straight 
on the eye-slits ; the points caught there in such a way that they 
unhelmed each other as they rode past. It was a fine thrust 
which all admired. Each returned to his own end. The English 
went up to John Savage and told him once more that he had 
done enough for that day and could leave off with honour, 
and that others besides himself must be given a chance to 
practise arms. He yielded to this advice, put down his shield 
and lance and, getting off his courser, mounted a rounsey to 
watch the others jousting. 

Next there came foward a knight from Bohemia, belonging 
to the Queen of England's personal guard, whose name was 
Herr Hans. He was considered a good jouster, strong and 
tough. His arms were argent, three gryphons' feet sable with 
azure claws. When he came into the lists, he was asked which 
of the three knights he wished to joust against. He said, Bouci- 
caut. An English squire was sent, as the rules required, to 
knock on my lord Boucicaut's war shield. This knight, being 
ready armed and mounted, duly responded to the challenge. 
His shield was buckled on, he took his lance and placed it in 
the rest, and looked carefully at the Bohemian knight, who 
was also in jousting posture with his shield at his neck and 
his lance in his hand. They spurred their horses hard forward 
and came together, expecting to hit each other squarely, but 



this they failed to do. The Bohemian knight dealt a foul blow 
which was strongly condemned, for he struck my lord Bouci- 
caut's helm with an ugly sideways thrust before riding on. 
The English saw clearly that he was at fault and knew that he 
had forfeited his horse and armour if the French insisted on 
it. The French and English held a long discussion together 
about that improper thrust, but finally the three knights ex- 
cused him, from a desire to please the English. 

Herr Hans begged to be allowed to run just one more lance 
and was asked whom he wished to challenge. He sent a squire 
to rap on the war shield of Sir Regnault de Roye. This knight, 
who was in his tent and had not yet jousted that day, came out 
fully armed and said that he would be glad to satisfy him, since 
such was the agreed procedure. His shield was buckled on, his 
lance was handed to him. He took it and put it in the rest 
and looked long and carefully ahead of him, so as to hit the 
Bohemian fair and square. Both spurred their horses. As they 
neared each other, they lowered their lances and struck one 
another full on their shields. Sir Regnault de Roye, who was 
one of the strongest and toughest j ousters in France at that 
time, hit him so hard that he lifted him right out of the saddle 
and sent liim flying to the ground with such force that they 
thought he was killed. The French knight passed on and rode 
round to return to his mark. Herr Hans's men got him up with 
great difficulty and took him back among them. The English 
were very pleased that he had suffered this defeat, because of 
the unchivalrous way in which he had jousted on his first 
course. And need I say that he had no mind to joust again that 
day ? ' 

I . The passages given above cover nearly all the incidents and variations 
of the joust as described by Froissart. A few additional details are con- 
tained in these extracts: 

As they were nearing each other, both horses swerved away, preventing 
them from hitting each other with a full thrust. (Sempy and John Russell.) 

My lord Boucicaut broke his lance, but the English knight kept his in- 
tact and used it well, for he knocked off Boucicaut's helm so violently that 
the blood gushed from his nose. My lord Boucicaut retired to his tent and 
did no more jousting that day, for it was getting towards evening. 
(Boucicaut and Sherborne.) 


BOOK FOUR (1389-I400) 

The jousts ended for that day (Thursday) and no one else 
came forward from the English side. So the Earl of Hunting- 
don, the Earl Marshal, Sir Lewis Clifford, Lord Beaumont, 
Sir John Clynton, Sir Jean d*Aubrecicourt, Sir Thomas Sher- 
borne and all the knights who had jousted during the four 
days went in a company to the French knights and thanked 
them warmly for the sport they had had, saying : 

*A11 the knights and squires in our company who wish to 
joust have done so, so we take our leave of you, for we are 
returning to Calais and thence to England. We are well aware 
that anyone else wishing to make a trial of arms against you 
will find you here for the remainder of the thirty days men- 
tioned in your challenge. Once we are back in England, we 
assure you that we will inform all the knights and squires 
whom we meet of this tournament and will request them to 
come and find you here.' 

'Many thanks,' the three knights replied, 'they will be cor- 
dially welcomed and provided with a trial of arms, as you 
have been. And with that we thank you greatly for the cour- 
tesy which you have shown us.' 

On that peaceful and friendly note the English left the 
French at the lists of Saint-Inglevert and went back to Calais. 

It may be added that, after the English company had taken 
leave of the French knights, the King of France and the Lord 
of Garencieres, who had been present at the jousts incognito^ 

Sempy unhelmed him so violently that the buckle to which the helm 
was attached behind broke, and it fell on the grass. (Sempy and Blaket.) 

TTie thrusts were good and much admired, for both were unhelmed, 
only their caps remaining on their heads. (Boucicaut and William Mascley.) 

The force of the thrusts which they delivered on each other's shields 
lifted their horses' forelegs from the ground and both knights reeled in 
the saddle. Nevertheless, they rode on. . . . (R. de Roye and Jean 

Swinnerton did very well not to fall off. It was quite surprising, for Sir 
Regnault hit him in such a way that he forced his spine right back on to 
his horse's crupper. He straightened up very nimbly as they passed by, 
but lost his lance. (R. de Roye and Swinnerton.) 


went back for the night to Marquise. Early the next day Fri- 
day they left there to return to France, riding continually 
until they reached Creil on the river Oise, where the Queen of 
France was staying. Very few people except his personal 
attendants knew where the King had been. 


The T>nke of Toiiraine in Trouble (i^pi) 

The Duke of Touraine at that time so doted on Sir Pierre de 
Craon that he treated him as his most intimate companion, 
dressed him in clothes similar to his own, took him with him 
wherever he went, and told him all his secrets. The Duke was 
still a susceptible young man, very fond of the company of 
ladies and girls, and very willing to amuse himself with them. 
In particular, I was told, he fell violently in love with a beauti- 
ful Parisian lady, young and gay. His attachment became 
known and his secret was revealed in such a way that the affair 
led him into serious trouble. The Duke could think of no one 
to blame for this except Sir Pierre de Craon, since he had con- 
fided in him about everything and had taken him secretly 
with him when he had a meeting with the young lady. The 
Duke, who was very much in love with her, seems to have 
promised her a thousand gold crowns if she would go to bed 
with him. The lady refused them, saying that she did not love 
the Duke for liis money, but had been attracted to him by true 
affection, and that, ' thank God, she would not sell her honour 
for gold or silver'. All this conversation, these secrets and 
promises, came to the ears of the Duchess of Touraine,^ who 
immediately sent for the young lady and had her brought to 
her private room. When she came in, she addressed her by her 
name and said very angrily: 'Well, so you're trying to make 
trouble between the Duke and mel' The young lady was 
dumbfounded and answered, weeping, *No, no, madam, I 
swear to God! I am not trying to. I would never dare to think 
of such a thing.' 'But that's how it is,' the Duchess went on. 
*I know everything about it. The Duke loves you and you 
love him, and things have gone so far that in such-and-such 
a place (which she named), he promised you a thousand gold 
crowns to go to bed with him. You refused them. That was 
wise of you, and this time I forgive you. But I forbid you, 
I. Valcntina Visconti, daughter of the ruler of Milan. 



if you value your life, to have any more dealings with him. 
Just send him packing.' 

The young lady, feeling the truth of this accusation and the 
danger she was in, repHed : ' Of course, madam, I will get rid 
of him as soon as I can and will make sure that you never hear 
of anything else to displease you.' On this understanding the 
Duchess dismissed her and she went back to her house. 

Soon afterwards the Duke, in ignorance of all this and still 
very much in love with the lady, went to some place where 
she also was. When she saw him, she avoided him and showed 
no signs of love, but quite the contrary. She dared not show 
her feelings, and also she had given the Duchess her sworn 
promise. The Duke was very puzzled by her behaviour and 
insisted on knowing the reason for it. The young lady answered 
imid tears : * My lord, either you have been telling Madame de 
Touraine about that offer you once made me, or someone else 
las done it for you. Think carefully who you have confided 
n, for I have been threatened with most dire consequences by 
Madame de Touraine herself. I have promised faithfully that, 
except on this one occasion, I will have no more conversations 
A'ith you, so that she shall have no further cause for jealousy.' 

The Duke was both angry and perplexed to hear this, and 
;aid : * My dear lady, I swear to you on my honour that I would 
rather lose a hundred thousand francs than tell that to the 
Duchess. But, since you have given a promise, keep it, and I 
vill try at all costs to get to the bottom of this and find out 
vho can have disclosed our secrets.' 

With this assurance, the Duke turned away from the young 
ady and left her in peace, hiding his displeasure for the time 
Deing. He possessed a cool and controlled manner and could 
lisguise his feelings, but he was thinking hard about the 
natter. That evening he went to his wife the Duchess and had 
upper with her, and gave a greater show of affection than he 
lad ever done before. He succeeded, by kind and coaxing 
vords, in persuading her to reveal her secrets and admit that 
;he had found out about him from Sir Pierre de Craon. At the 
ime he affected to treat it lightly and said little more about it. 

That night passed. The next morning, on the stroke of nine, 


BOOK FOUR (1389-I400) 

he got on his horse and left the Hotel de Saint-Pol for the 
Louvre, where his brother the King was about to go to mass. 
The " King, who was extremely fond of him, greeted him 
affectionately, but he noticed, from the Duke's behaviour, that 
he was very disturbed. 'Well, brother,' he said to him. 'What 
is the matter? You look worried.' 'Sire,' he replied, 'I have 
good reason to be.' 'Why?' the King asked. 'We wish to 
know the cause.' 

Holding nothing back, the Duke related the whole affair to 
him in detail, complaining bitterly of Sir Pierre de Craon's 
behaviour, and saying : ' Sire, I swear by my loyalty to you 
that, if it would not reflect on my honour after showing him 
such great favours, I would have him killed.' 'You must not 
do that,' said the King, 'but I will have him told by my most 
trusty servants to leave my household, because I no longer 
require his services. At the same time you will turn him out 
of yours.' 'That is exactly what I mean to do,' said the Duke, 
feeling more or less satisfied by the King's reply. 

On that same day Sir Pierre de Craon was told by the Lord 
de La Riviere and Sir Jean Le Mercier, speaking in the King's 
name, that his services were no longer required in the royal 
household and that he should seek advancement elsewhere. 
He was told the same thing by Sir Jean de Bueil and the Lord 
of Herbault, Seneschal of Touraine. Finding himself dismissed 
like this, he was thoroughly crestfallen, and then bitterly 
resentful. He was unable to imagine the reason, for none had 
been given him. He did indeed try to come before the King 
and the Duke, to ask in what way he could have offended 
them, but was told that neither was willing to see him. Realiz- 
ing that he had been cornered, he made his arrangements and 
left Paris with a heavy heart. He went first to a castle he 
possessed in Anjou, called Sable, where he stayed for a time. He 
was very depressed, for now he had been expelled from the 
royal household, the Touraine household, and the household 
of the Queen of Naples and Jerusalem.' 

I. The widow of the King's uncle, the Duke of Anjou, to whom P. de 
Craon had first been attached. The title had been assigned to the Anjou 
family by Queen Joanna of Naples. See above, pp. 209-10. 



Since these three courts were closed to him, he decided to 
go to his cousin, the Duke of Brittany, and tell him all that 
had happened. Arriving at Vannes, he was welcomed by the 
Duke, who already knew most of the story. He related the 
whole business to him again word for word, describing how 
he had been treated. When the Duke of Brittany had heard his 
account, his comment was: 'Console yourself, cousin. All 
this has been brewed up against you by Clisson.'^ 

I . Olivier de Clisson, Constable of France, opposed to P. de Craon and 
an enemy of the Duke of Brittany, whom he had once served. 


The T>eath of the Qount of J^oix (i^pi) 

In that same year the noble and gallant Count of Foix died, in 
rather a strange way. I will describe how it happened. 

It should be said that of all the pleasures of this world he 
particularly loved hunting with hounds, and constantly 
maintained more than sixteen hundred of them for his use. 
At that time the Count was at Orthez in Beam and had gone 
out hunting in the woods of Sauveterre on the road to Pam- 
plona in Navarre. On the day of his death he had spent the 
whole morning until noon in pursuit of a bear, which was 
finally caught. By the time it had been killed and cut up, it was 
mid-afternoon. He asked his men where dinner had been pre- 
pared for them, and was told at the Hospice of Orion about 
five miles from Orthez. ' Good,' he said, ' let's go and eat there. 
Then in the cool of the evening we will ride on to Orthez.' 

They proceeded to do as he said and rode slowly into the 
village mentioned. The Count dismounted before the inn, 
followed by his people. He went into the room prepared for 
him and found it strewn with freshly cut greenery and all the 
walls covered with green branches to make the place cooler 
and more fragrant, for the air outside was stiflingly hot, as is 
usual in August. When he got into this cool, fresh room, he 
said: 'This greenstuff makes me feel much better. It's been a 
dreadfully hot day.' He sat down on a chair and chatted a little 
with Sir Espan de Lyon, talking about the hounds and which 
of them had done best. While he was talking, his bastard son 
Yvain came in with Sir Pierre de Gabaston; the tables were 
ready laid in the same room. He called for water to wash in 
and two squires, Raymonnet de Lanne and Raymonnet de 
Caupenne, came forward with it. Arnauton d'Espagne took 
the silver basin and another knight called Sir Thibault took 
the towel. The Count rose from his seat and stretched out his 
hands to be washed. As soon as the cold water fell on his 
fingers, which were well-shaped, long and straight, his face 



turned white, his heart throbbed violently, his legs failed him, 
and he fell back on to the chair, exclaiming : ' I am dying. Lord 
God have mercy! ' These were the last words he spoke, though 
he did not die at once, but fell into a state of pain and shivering. 

The knights and his son, who were watching him in dis- 
may, Ufted him in their arms and carried him very gently to 
a bed, on which they laid him and covered him. They thought 
that he had simply had a fainting-fit. The two squires who had 
brought the water, in order not to be suspected of having 
poisoned him, went to the wash-basin and said: 'This was the 
water ! We tested it in the presence of all of you. We will do so 
again.' And they did so, until all were satisfied. Bread, water, 
spices and other restoratives were put into his mouth, but all 
to no effect. Within half-an-hour he was dead, having given 
up his soul very quietly. May God have mercy upon him! 

It need hardly be said that all those present were grieved 
and appalled beyond measure. They shut the door tight so 
that no one in the inn should see what had happened or know 
that the gallant Count was dead. The knights looked at his 
son Yvain, as he stood there lamenting and wringing his 
hands, and said to him: 'Yvain, it's all over. You have lost 
your gallant father. We know that he loved you above every- 
one else. Now act quickly. Get your horse and ride to Orthez. 
Take possession of the castle and the treasure inside it, before 
anyone else gets there or my lord's death is known.' 

This persuaded Sir Yvain and he said: 

'Sirs, I thank you. You have done me a generous service 
for which I shall yet reward you. But give me my father's 
tokens, because I shall not be able to get into the castle with- 
out them.' 

'That is true,' they repUed. 'Here they are.' He took them. 
They were a ring which the Count of Foix wore on his finger 
and a little knife with a long blade with which he sometimes 
cut up his food at table. Tiiese and none others were the 
tokens known to the gate-keeper of Orthez castle. Unless he 
was shown them he would never open the gate. 

Sir Yvain de Foix set out from the Hospice of Orion with 
two companions only and rode fast to Orthez. No news of his 


BOOK FOUR (1389-I400) 

father's death had reached the town. He rode through the 
length of it without speaking to anyone, and no one took 
much notice of him. He came to the castle and called to the 
gate-keeper, who answered: 'What do you want, my lord 
Yvain? Where is my lord ? ' ' He is at the Hospice,' said Yvain. 
*He has sent me to get some things from his room and take 
them back to him. To prove that that is true, look at these. 
Here are his ring and his knife.' The gate-keeper looked 
through a window and recognized the tokens. He opened the 
wicket-gate and Yvain went in with one companion, while 
the servant stayed with the horses or took them to the stable. 
When Sir Yvain was inside, he said to the gate-keeper: 
*Lock the door.' He did so. When it was locked. Sir Yvain 
seized the keys and said to him: 'If you utter a word you're 
a dead man.' The gate-keeper was astounded and asked why. 
' Because,' said Yvain, ' my father has died and I want to take 
possession of his treasures before anyone else comes.' The 
gate-keeper obeyed, having no choice, and because he would 
just as soon have Sir Yvain reap the advantage as another. 
Sir Yvain knew where the Count's treasure was kept and he 
went towards it. It was in a big tower which had three pairs of 
heavy doors secured with iron bars, each of which had to be 
opened with different keys. These keys did not come to his 
hand, for they were kept in a casket made of tempered steel 
and locked with a little steel key. The Count used to carry 
this key on him when he went riding outside Orthez, and it 
was found in a silk tunic which he wore over his shirt, by the 
knights watching the body, after Yvain had left the Hospice. 
When they saw it, they were puzzled to know what the little 
key was for. But the Count's chaplain who was there, and 
who knew all his master's secrets because he was high in his 
confidence and had been taken alone with him on the visits 
he made to his treasury, said on seeing it: ' Sir Yvain has made 
a wasted journey. Without that key he cannot get to the 
treasure, for it unlocks a small steel box containing all the 
keys of the treasury.' 

The knights were dismayed to hear this and said to the 
chaplain, whose name was Master Nicholas: 'You would do 



well to take it to him. It would be much better for Sir Yvain 
to be in possession of the treasure than someone else. He is a 
good knight, and our lord the Count, to whom God be 
merciful, was very attached to him.' 'Since that is how you 
feel,' said the chaplain, 'I will gladly do so.' 

He took the key, got on his horse and set out for the castle 
of Orthez, where Sir Yvain was desperately searching for the 
keys and vainly trying to devise some way of breaking the 
iron fastenings of the doors in the tower, for they were very 
strong and he lacked the necessary tools to do it with. While 
this was going on and Master Nicholas was hurrying to join 
him, the rumour reached Orthez by some means or other, 
perhaps through women or servants from the Hospice of 
Orion, that their lord the Count was dead. It was bitter news, 
for he was greatly beloved by everyone. The whole town 
began to stir and the people to collect in the main square and 
talk among themselves. Some said that they had seen Sir Yvain 
passing by all alone. 'We saw Sir Yvain come and ride through 
the town and go towards the castle. It was easy to tell by his 
face that something was wrong.' Others took it up: 'Yes, 
something must have happened. He never used to ride back 
ahead of his father.' While the people were gathering and 
murmuring in the square, along came the chaplain and landed 
right in the middle of them. They swarmed round him to get 
the news, asking: 'Master Nicholas, how is my lord? They 
are saying that he is dead. Is it true?' 'No,' said the chaplain, 
'but he is very ill. I've come to get something to make him 
better, and then I shall go back to him with it.' So saying, he 
left them and reached the castle, where Sir Yvain was over- 
joyed to see him, for without the key which he brought he 
could never have entered the treasury tower. 

Now this is what the people of the town did : they began 
to grow very suspicious about the Count's fate and said 
among themselves: 'It is night now, but there has been no 
definite news of my lord, no sign of steward or clerks or 
officers: yet Sir Yvain and his chaplain, who knew all liis 
secrets, have gone into the castle. Let us place a guard over the 
castle for tonight and tomorrow we shall know more about 


BOOK FOUR (1389-1400) 

things. And let us send secretly to the Hospice to find out 
what is happening, for we know that most of my lord's 
treasure is in the castle. If it were stolen or removed by some 
trickery, we should be held responsible and would get the 
blame, so we must provide against that.' 

They all agreed on this and had you been there you would 
have seen the men of Orthez rousing up, flocking towards the 
castle, assembling in the open space in front of it, while their 
leaders set guards over all the town gates, so that none could 
enter or leave without permission. There they stayed until 
morning, when the news of the Count's death became known 
for certain. The whole town was filled with lamentations, for 
he was much beloved there. The guard was strengthened at 
every point and all the rest of the townsmen went with their 
weapons to the space before the castle. 

When Sir Yvain de Foix saw them from inside and realized 
that they knew the truth about his father's death, he said to 
the chaplain : * Master Nicholas, I have failed in my plan. These 
men of Orthez have woken up to it and I cannot get out of 
here without their permission. More and more of them are 
flocking into the square down there. I shall have to make 
myself small before them. It's no good trying to use force.' 
* Quite right,' said the chaplain, 'you will gain more by soft 
words than by proud ones. Go and talk to them, and speak 
prudently. ' 

Yvain addresses the citizens from the tower, appealing to them to 
support bis claim to part of an inheritance which will he divided and 
may well be in dispute. They consent to do what is in their power to see 
that justice is done him, and are admitted into the castle. 

On that same day the body of Count Gaston of Foix was 
brought to Orthez and put in a coffin. Everyone, men, women 
and children, wept bitterly at the sight of it when it was car- 
ried into the town. They recalled amid their lamentations the 
sterling qualities of the man, his noble life, his princely state 
and governance, his wisdom and sound judgement, his prow- 
ess in war, his generosity and the peace and prosperity in 
which they had lived during the years he ruled over them, 
when neither French nor EngHsh would liave dared to offend 



them. And they said: 'How things will turn against us now! 
How fiercely will our neighbours war on us ! We have lived in 
a land of peace and liberty, but now it will be a land of misery 
and servitude, for none will protect our rights, none will 
stand up to defend us. Ah Gaston, splendid boy, why did you 
ever anger your father ? If you were with us still, who had 
such promising beginnings, how greatly should we be com- 
forted ! But we lost you too young and your father has stayed 
too short a time with us. He was a man of only sixty-three, 
no great age for a prince who was strong in body and stout 
at heart, who lived at his ease and satisfied liis desires. Dis- 
consolate land of Beam deprived of a true-born heir, what 
will become of you now ? Never again will you see the like of 
the noble and chivalrous Count of FoixT 


Qharles VI Qoes Mad {1)92) 

After his disgrace at court {p. ^84 above), Pierre de Craon schemes 
to take revenge on the tnan he holds responsible, Olivier de Clisson, 
Constable of France and favourite of the King. But his attempt to 
assassinate him one night in the streets of Paris fails and he flees back 
to the protection of the Duke of Brittany. 'Enraged bj this attack on 
his favourite, Charles 1/7 insists on leading a punitive expedition 
against the Duke. 

It was fearfully hot on the day when the King left Le Mans, 
as was to be expected, for it was in August, when the sun is 
naturally at its greatest strength. It should also be said, to help 
understand what happened, that while at Le Mans the King 
had been overloaded with councils. Apart from this unfore- 
seen work, he was not at all well and had not been so all the 
year, but had been suffering from head-pains, eating and 
drinking little, and almost every day afflicted with heats and 
fevers. He was disposed to these, by the nature of his constitu- 
tion, and very harmful to him they were. In addition, the 
attack on liis Constable had plunged him into a state of melan- 
choly and anxiety. His doctors were well aware of all this, 
as were his uncles, but they could do nothing to improve 
matters because he refused even to listen to their advice 
against going to Brittany. 

I was told - and such was my information - that as he was 
riding through the forest of Le Mans, he was given a solemn 
warning which ought to have caused him to reflect and to call 
his council together before going farther. There suddenly 
came towards him a man with bare head and feet dressed in 
a mean smock of white homespun and looking more nearly 
mad than sane. He dashed out from between two trees, boldly 
seized the reins of the King's horse, stopped him short and 
said: 'King, ride forward no farther. Turn back, for you arc 
betrayed.' These words struck home into the King's mind, 
which was already weakened, and afterwards had a very 



much worse effect, for his spirits sank and his blood ran 

At this, men-at-arms came up and beat savagely on the 
man's hands, which were holding the reins, so that he let go 
and was left behind; and they paid no more attention to his 
words than to those of a madman. This was madness indeed, 
in many people's opinion. They ought at least to have spent 
a little time on the man, finding out something about him 
and questioning him to try to discover whether he was sane 
or insane and what had made him utter that warning, and 
where it came from. None of this was done and they simply 
left him behind. No one knows what became of him and he 
was never seen again by anyone who recognized him, but 
those who were near the King at the time certainly heard him 
speak the words. 

The King and his troop went on. It was about twelve 
o'clock when they cleared the forest and came to a fine open 
stretch of sandy heaths. The sun was dazzlingly bright, blaz- 
ing down in its full strength. Its beams shone with such force 
that they penetrated everything. The sand was hot under- 
foot and the horses were sweating. No one was so fit or so 
hardened to campaigning as not to be affected by the heat. The 
chief lords rode separately, each with his company. The King 
was some little distance from the others so as to get less dust. 
The Dukes of Berry and Burgundy rode talking together 
about a hundred yards away from him on the left. The other 
lords, the Count de la Alarche, Lord Charles d'Albret, Lord 
Philippe d'Artois, Lords Henri and Philippe de Bar, Lord 
Pierre de Navarre, were all riding wnth their own troops of 
men. The Duke of Bourbon, the Lord de Coucy, Sir Charles 
de Hangest and the Baron d'lvry were in other companies, all 
separate from the King's troop. They were chatting among 
themselves, with no premonition of what w^as suddenly to 
befall the head of the whole company, the very person of the 
King. In such ways are made manifest God's works and his 
terrible scourges, greatly to be feared of all creatures. Many 
examples are to be found in the Old and New Testaments. 
Was there not Nebuchadnezzar, King of Assyria, who reigned 


BOOK FOUR (1389-1400) 

for a time in such might that there was no whisper of another 
higher than liim ? And suddenly, at the height of his power and 
glory, the King of Kings, God, Lord of Heaven and earth and 
maker and disposer of all things, so visited him that he lost his 
reason and his kingdom, and remained in that state for seven 
years. He lived on acorns and crab-apples, with the tastes and 
appetite of a swine. And when he had done penance, God re- 
stored his memory to him and he said to the prophet Daniel 
that above the God of Israel there is no other God. In plainer 
words and in the light of truth, God the Father, the Son and 
the Holy Ghost, three in one name and all of one substance, 
was, is and ever shall be as mighty to manifest His works as 
heretofore, and none should wonder or be amazed at any- 
thing He may do. 

To return to the subject which prompted me to write those 
words, a strange influence from the heavens descended that 
day upon the King of France, and many say that it was his 
own fault. Because of his bodily constitution and the state 
of health he was in, as these were known to his doctors, who 
were precisely the people who should know, he ought not to 
have ridden out on so hot a day; perhaps in the morning or 
the cool of the evening, but not at that hour. For this, those 
on whose guidance and advice he most relied at that time 
were blamed and discredited. 

So the King of France was riding in the sun over the sandy 
plain, on the hottest August day that has ever been known 
before or since. He was wearing a black velvet jerkin, which 
made him very hot, and had on his head a plain scarlet hat 
and a string of large milky pearls which the Queen had given 
him when he said good-bye to her. Behind him was riding a 
page who wore a Montauban helmet of burnished steel which 
glittered in the sun. Behind him came another page carrying 
a gilded lance on which was fixed a silk banner, the distin- 
guishing mark of the King. The lance had a broad head of fine, 
gleaming steel; it was one of a dozen which the Lord de La 
Riviere had had forged when he was at Toulouse. He had pre- 
sented all twelve to the King, who had given three to the 
Duke of Orleans and three to the Duke of Bourbon. 



Then, as they were all riding along like this, the page carry- 
ing the lance forgot what he was about or dozed off, as boys 
and pages do through carelessness, and allowed the blade of 
the lance to fall forward on to the helmet which the other 
page was wearing. There was a loud clang of steel, and the 
King, who was so close that they were riding on his horse's 
heels, gave a sudden start. His mind reeled, for his thoughts 
were still running on the words which the madman or the 
wise man had said to him in the forest, and he imagined that 
a great host of his enemies were coming to kill him. Under 
this delusion, his weakened mind caused him to run amok. 
He spurred his horse forward, then drew his sword and 
wheeled round on to his pages, no longer recognizing them 
or anyone else. He thought he was in a batde surrounded 
by the enemy and, raising his sword to bring it down on 
anyone who was in the way, he shouted : 'Attack ! Attack the 
traitors ! ' 

The pages saw the King's fury and took fright, not without 
reason. They thought it was their carelessness which had 
made him angry, so they spurred their horses aside to avoid 
him. The Duke of Orleans^ was not far off. The King rode up 
to him brandishing his sword. He had lost all recollection of 
who people were and could not recognize his own brother or 
his uncles. When he saw him coming at him with drawn 
sword, the Duke was naturally afraid and spurred hurriedly 
away, with the King after him. The Duke of Burgundy was 
riding on the flank when, startled by the cries of the pages 
and the pounding of the horses' hooves, he looked across and 
saw the King chasing his brother with the naked sword. He 
was horror-struck and called out : ' Ho !- Disaster has overtaken 
us ! The King's gone out of his mind I After him, in God's 
name! Catch him!' And then: 'Fly, nephew, fly! The King 
means to kill you ! ' It was certain that the Duke of Orleans 
felt far from reassured and he was fleeing in earnest as fast 
as his horse could carry him, with knights and squires after 
them both. Everyone began shouting and turning their 

I. Previously the Duke of Touraine. He had been created Duke of 
Orleans in that year, 1392. 


BOOK FOUR (1389-I400) 

horses in that direction. Those who were farther off, riding 
on the flanks, thought they were chasing a wolf or a hare, until 
they learnt the truth, that something was wrong with the 
King. However, the Duke of Orleans escaped by turning and 
twisting, and also people came to his help. Knights, squires 
and men-at-arms formed a circle right round the King, allow- 
ing him to tire himself out against them. The longer he raged 
about, the weaker he grew. When he came at any of them, 
knights or squires, they simply let themselves fall under his 
blows. I did not hear that any were killed in that affair, but 
he struck down quite a number, for none defended himself. 
Finally, when he was quite exhausted, and his horse as well, 
and both of them were drenched in sweat, a Norman knight 
called Sir Guillaume Martel, who was his chamberlain and of 
whom he w^as very fond, came up behind him and flung his 
arms round the King as he still waved his sword, and gripped 
him tight. While he was being held, all the others came up. 
His sword was taken from him and he was lifted from his 
horse and laid very gently on the ground and stripped of his 
jerkin to cool him. His three uncles and his brother went to 
him, but he had lost all recollection of them and gave no sign 
of affection or recognition. His eyes were rolling very 
strangely, nor did he speak to anyone. 

The expedition against the Duke of Brittanj is at once called off. 
The King is taken back to L^ Mans in a litter. 

That evening the doctors were very busy and the great lords 
very troubled. Tongues began to wag and various opinions 
were put forward. Some, who were ready to believe the worst, 
said that the King had been drugged and bewitched when he 
set out from Le Mans that morning, in order to bring disaster 
and dishonour on the realm of France. This rumour was so 
persistent that it came to the ears of the King's blood-relations 
and they began to discuss it among themselves. *You and 
you, listen, if you will, to this widespread rumour about the 
people who are responsible for the King's welfare. It is being 
said that he has been drugged or put under a spell. We must 
find out how that could have been done and where and when.' 
'How can we find out?' 'From the doctors,' some said. 'They 



must know. They are familiar with his constitution and 

The doctors were sent for and closely questioned by the 
Duke of Burgundy. Their reply was that the King had been 
sickening for this illness for some time past. 'We knew very 
well that this weakness of the head had been troubling him 
seriously and that, sooner or later, it was bound to break out.' 
The Duke of Burgundy then said: 'That explanation clears 
you entirely, but he was so set on going on this expedition 
that he would not Usten to us, or to you. It is a thousand 
pities that it was ever mooted, for it has brought him nothing 
but discredit. It would have been better if Clisson and all his 
following had been killed than that the King should have 
developed this illness. It will set tongues wagging all over the 
country, because the King is still a young man. And we, his 
uncles and blood-relations, whose duty is to direct and advise 
him, will receive the blame, although it was not our fault. 
Now tell us,' the Duke of Burgundy went on, ' this morning, 
before he mounted his horse, were you at his breakfast?' 
'Indeed we were,' said the doctors. 'And what sort of meal 
did he make?' 'He hardly ate or drank anything, he seemed 
to be lost in thought.' 'And who was the last to serve him 
with wine?' asked the Duke. 'We do not know,' said the 
doctors. 'As soon as the table was cleared we left to get ready 
for riding. Find out from the butlers or his chamberlains.' 

They sent for Robert de Tanques, a squire from Picardy 
who was the head wine-steward. When he came, he was asked 
who had poured out the King's last glass of wine. ' My lords,' he 
told them, ' Sir Helion de Neilhac' That knight was sent for 
and asked from where he had got the wine which the King 
drank in his room just before he left. His answer was: 'My 
lords, Robert de Tanques here brought it in and tasted it, and 
so did I, in front of the King.' 'That's true,' said Robert de 
Tanques, 'but there can be no cause for doubt or suspicion 
about this, because there is still some of the same wine in the 
royal bottles and we will readily drink some and test it before 
you.' Then the Duke of Berry said: 'We are arguing and rack- 
ing our brains for nothing. If the King has been poisoned or 


BOOK FOUR (1389-1400) 

bewitched, it is only by evil counsels. This is not a fit time to 
discuss the matter. Let us leave it in suspense until later.' 

The next day, the King's uncles went to visit him and heard 
that he was very weak. They asked how he had slept. His 
attendants said, hardly at all ; he did not seem able to get any 
rest. ' Bad news,' said the Duke of Burgundy. All three uncles 
went up to the King's bed, where the Duke of Orleans was 
already, and asked him how he felt. The King said nothing, 
but looked at them strangely and did not recognize them. 
They were perplexed and said to each other : ' There is nothing 
we can do here. He is in a very bad way. We are doing him 
more harm than good. We will leave him in charge of his 
doctors and attendants, they will look after him. Our task 
is to consider how to order the realm, for there must be 
government and administration. Otherwise there would be 
trouble.' * Brother,' said Burgundy to Berry, *we must get 
back to Paris and arrange for the King to be taken there by 
comfortable and easy stages. We can attend to him better there 
than in this distant province. Once we are in Paris, we will 
assemble the whole council of France and it will be decided 
how the kingdom is to be managed and who will be respon- 
sible for its administration, whether our dear nephew of 
Orleans, or us.' 'Quite right,' said the Duke of Berry. 'Now 
we must decide on the most suitable and healthy place to take 
him to, to give him the best chance of a quick recovery.' It 
was then agreed that he should be quietly taken straight to the 
Castle of Creil, which lies in pleasant country on the River 
Oise and where the air is good. 

News of the French King's illness spread far and wide, and 
though some were grieved by it, you can well imagine that 
the Duke of Brittany and Sir Pierre de Craon were not among 
them. Their tears were soon dry, for they knew how much he 
hated them. 

When the Pope in Rome, Boniface, and his cardinals heard 
the news, they also rejoiced at it and assembled in consis- 
tory. They said that their greatest enemy, the King of France, 



had been beaten by rods of wrath when God clouded his mind, 
and that this influence had been rained down from heaven to 
chastise him; he had inclined too much to the anti-Pope in 
Avignon, and this bitter scourge had been sent upon him to 
divide his kingdom. They felt that their cause would now be 
strengthened. Everything considered and on a reasonable 
view, this really was a serious warning, and one which Pope 
Clement and the cardinals of Avignon might well have taken 
to heart. But they ignored it, except insofar as it affected the 
prestige of the King and the kingdom. Their conclusion was 
that one could hardly expect anything else of a king who was 
young and headstrong, because he had been allowed to be 
over-active and too little care had been taken of him. He had 
indulged to excess in riding night and day and in tiring his 
body and mind in all kinds of labours far beyond what was 
reasonable. Those who had directed him in the past were to 
be blamed for it and no one else, for it was plainly their fault. 
If, during his childhood and youth, they had laid down a 
reasonable rule of life for him, and had kept him to it under 
the supervision of his uncles, this outbreak of illness would 
never have occurred. ' But in spite of that, he has a fund of 
sound reason, for he promised the Pope and gave his royal 
word that he would so order things that the anti-Pope in 
Rome and his cardinals would be destroyed by force, the 
schism of the Church would be healed, and the present troubles 
remedied. But he has done none of this. Rather he has con- 
sistently gone against his word and oath, whereby God is 
offended. As a solemn warning. He has struck him with this 
scourge of madness, and that, on any reasonable view, sup- 
ports our case. If he recovers his sanity, as may well happen, 
we must send wise and capable legates to him, who will point 
out his failure to keep his promises, so that he shall not be 
unaware of it through any neglect of ours.' 

Such were the arguments and suggestions of the Pope and 
cardinals at Avignon. They alleged that he had fully deserved 
to be afflicted by this illness, having brought it upon himself, 
and they fastened the whole blame upon him, his guardians 
and his inner council. Independently of them, many other 


BOOK FOUR (1389-I400) 

people in France thought the same thing. Envoys were sent 
to a town called Haspres, situated in Hainault between Cam- 
brai and Valenciennes, where there is a church dependent on 
the Abbey of Saint- Vaast of Arras, in which Saint Achar is 
revered. The body of this holy saint lies in a sumptuous silver 
shrine and attracts pilgrims and suppliants from many places 
whenever the outbreaks of madness and possession are par- 
ticularly severe. In honour of the saint, they had a man made 
in wax in the resemblance of the King of France and sent it 
there with a large and splendid candle. These were offered 
with humble devotion to the saint's body, in order that it 
should intercede with God for the King*s cruel affliction to 
be relieved. Very wide interest was aroused and a similar offer- 
ing was made to Saint Hermer of Renaix, which saint has 
merit to cure all kinds of frenzy. To all other places known 
to have bodies of male or female saints possessing the merit 
and virtue by the grace of God to cure cases of madness and 
possession, the King's offering was sent in due and pious 

Meanwhile a famous doctor^ one Guillaume de Harselly, has been 
summoned on the recommendation of his patron^ Enguerrand de Coucy. 
The case is entrusted to him. 

Master Guillaume de Harselly, who was in charge of the 
King, remained quietly with him at Creil, treating him skil- 
fully and successfully. The case brought him much honour 
and advantage, as little by little he restored him to health. 
First, he removed the heats and fevers and restored his 
appetite for food and drink. He enabled him to relax and 
sleep and to recover his awareness of things around him. But 
he was still very weak, so gradually, to get him into the fresh 
air, he persuaded him to ride and go out hunting and hawking. 

When it became known that the King was rapidly recover- 
ing his health, reason and memory, all conditions of people 
rejoiced at the news and gave humble and hearty thanks 
to God for it. The King, still at Creil, asked to see his wife 
the Queen and his son the Dauphin. They both went there 
and were given a joyful welcome. So little by little, by the 
grace of God, the King was restored to full health. When 



Master Guillaume de Harselly saw it, he was delighted - and 
rightly so, for he had effected a notable cure. He handed the 
King over to his brother of Orleans and his uncles of Berry, 
Burgundy and Bourbon with the words : ' Thanks be to God, 
the King is in sound condition. I return him into your hands. 
Care should be taken not to agitate or depress him, for his 
spirits are still a little unstable, but they will gradually grow 
stronger. Amusements, relaxations, sports and pastimes with- 
in reason are more beneficial to him than anything else. Try 
to burden him the least possible with affairs of state. His mind 
is still weak and sensitive, and will be all this year, for he has 
undergone a very severe illness.' 

It was proposed that this Master Guillaume should be re- 
tained in the King's service in return for a salary high enough 
to content him; since that is the aim which doctors always 
pursue, to get large payments and profits from the lords and 
ladies they attend. So he was urgently requested to stay, 
but he made vehement excuses, saying that he was now an old 
man, feeble and useless, unable to endure the routine of the 
court, and that in short he wished to go back to his native 
place. When they saw that persuasion was useless they did 
not want to upset him and he was given leave to go. On his 
departure he was given a thousand gold crowns and was put 
on the books as entitled to four horses at any time when he 
cared to come to court. I do not think he ever did come back, 
because soon after he reached the city of Laon, where he 
usually lived, he died a very rich man. He was found to possess 
at least thirty thousand francs in cash, yet in his day he had 
been the meanest and stingiest person ever known. His 
only pleasure in life had been to amass great piles of florins. 
There were days when he hardly spent a penny of his own, 
but went round getting free meals and drinks wherever he 
could. All doctors suffer from such weaknesses. 


J^roissart "^R^isits England {i}9j) 

Now the fact is that I, Sir' Jean Froissart, at that date treas- 
urer and canon of Chimay in the County of Hainault and the 
diocese of Liege, was filled with a strong desire to revisit 
England, when, having been at Abbeville, I saw that a truce 
had been concluded between England and France, their allies 
and dependent territories, for the term of four years on land 
and sea. Several reasons prompted me to undertake the jour- 
ney. The first was that in my youth I had been brought up in 
the court and household of the noble King Edward of happy 
memory and the noble Queen Philippa, his wife, and among 
their children and the barons of England, who were living 
there at that time; and I had been treated by them with all 
honour, friendliness, generosity and courtesy. So I wanted 
to see the country again, and I had a feeling that if I did see it 
I should live the longer for it, for I had not been there for a 
full twenty-seven years, and if I did not find the same lords 
whom I had known at the date of my departure, I should meet 
their successors and that would be a real consolation to me. 
Also I could confirm the accounts of their doings about which 
I had written so much. I spoke of this to my dear patrons who 
were then reigning, to Duke Albert of Bavaria, Count of 
Hainault, Holland and Zealand and Lord of Friesland, and his 
son Lord William, at that time Count of Ostrevant, and to my 
very dear and honoured Lady Jeanne, Duchess of Brabant 
and Luxemburg, and my dear and powerful lord, Enguerrand 
de Coucy, and also to that gallant gentleman the Chevalier de 
Gommegnies whom I had known at the English court when 
he and I were both young ; and so too I had known the Lord de 
Coucy and all the other French nobles who had been kept in 

I. Froissart never held the knighthood which this title {sire) implies, 
but he felt morally entitled to it. Elsewhere he writes : ' Those who wish to 
please me will call me j/r.' 



London as hostages for the ransom of King John of France, 
as is recorded in our chronicle many pages back. 

The three great lords I have named and the ChevaUer de 
Gommegnies and Madame de Brabant approved of my plan 
when I mentioned it to them and all gave me letters of intro- 
duction to the King and his uncles, except for my lord de 
Coucy, who dared not give one because he was French, but 
wrote to his daughter,^ who at the time had the title of Duch- 
ess of Ireland. As a preparation for my visit, I had brought 
together all the writings on love and morality which I had 
composed over thirty-four years by the grace of God and of 
Love, and had had them copied, engrossed and illuminated. 
This much increased my desire to go to England and see 
King Richard, the son of the noble and powerful Prince of 
Wales and of Aquitaine, for I had not seen him since he had 
been baptized in the cathedral at Bordeaux, where I was in 
those days. I had intended to go on the expedition to Spain 
with the Prince and the other lords, but when we were at Dax 
the Prince sent me back to England to be with his m^other the 
Queen. So I was eager to see this King Richard and his noble 
uncles, and I had with me this very fine book, nicely decor- 
ated, bound in velvet with studs and clasps of silver gilt, which 
I meant to present to the King by way of introducing myself. 
In my enthusiasm for the journey I found all these preparations 
easy, for when one undertakes a thing gladly the effort seems 
to cost nothing. I provided myself with horses and travelhng 
necessities and, crossing from Calais, arrived at Dover on the 
twelfth of July (1395). But when I reached Dover, I found no 
one with whom I had been acquainted in the days when I 
lived in England. The hostelries and houses were all repopu- 
lated with strange people and the little children had grown 
into men and women who didn't know me, as I didn't know 

I stayed there for that afternoon and one night, to rest my- 
self and my horses. That was on a Tuesday; on the Wednes- 
day I reached Canterbury at just about nine o'clock and went 

I. Philippa de Coucy, married Robert de Vere, Duke of Ireland. See 
above, p. 317. 


BOOK FOUR (1389-1400) 

to see the shrine of St Thomas and the tomb of the Prince of 
Wales, who is buried there in great pomp. I heard high mass 
and made my offering to the holy relics, then went back for 
dinner at my hostelry, I learnt that the King was coming on 
pilgrimage on the Thursday. He was back from Ireland where 
he had been campaigning for about nine months and was 
anxious to visit the cathedral of St Thomas of Canterbury, 
both out of reverence for the honoured body of the saint and 
because his father's tomb is there. So I decided to await him, 
which I did. 

The next day he came in great state, accompanied by nu- 
merous lords and ladies. I mingled with them and everything 
seemed strange to me. I knew not a soul, for things had 
changed greatly in England over the past twenty-eight years. 
The King had none of his uncles with him. The Duke of 
Lancaster was in Aquitaine and the Dukes of York and Glou- 
cester somewhere else. So I felt completely lost at first. If only 
I could have come across a certain old knight, who had been 
one of the knights of King Edward's chamber and had be- 
come a member of King Richard's privy council, I should 
have felt comforted and would have gone up to him. His 
name was Sir Richard Stury. I inquired if he was still alive, 
and was told that he was, but that he was not there, having 
stayed in London. Then I thought of approaching Sir Thomas 
Percy, Steward of the Royal Household, who was there. I 
made myself known to him and found him most affable and 
courteous. He offered to present me and my letters to the 
King. I was delighted by this offer, for one has to have some 
connexions before one can approach such a mighty prince as 
the King of England. He even went to the King's chamber 
to see if it was a suitable moment, but he found that the King 
had retired to sleep, so told me to go back to my hostelry. I 
did this and, when the King had had his sleep, I went back to 
the Archbishop's palace in which he was staying and found 
Sir Thomas Percy giving orders to his people to move off, for 
the King had decided to go back for the night to Ospringe, 
from which he had come that morning. He advised me not to 
announce my arrival just yet, but to join the company round 



the King, saying that he would see that I was properly lodged, 
until such time as the King had settled with his entire house- 
hold in the place to which he was going. This was a delightful 
castle called Leeds, in the County of Kent. 

I made my arrangements accordingly and set out. At 
Ospringe I was lodged quite by chance in a house in which 
the High Steward had also placed a gallant English knight 
belonging to the King's chamber. He had stayed behind 
there when the King had left in the morning for Canterbury 
because of a slight headache which had come on during the 
night. Seeing that I was a foreigner and a Frenchman - for 
they consider all people whose language is Northern French 
as Frenchmen, whatever country or nation they belong to - 
this knight, whose name was Sir William de Lisle, made 
friends with me and I with him, for the gentry of England are 
particularly courteous and easy to get to know and to talk 
to. He asked me about my position and my business, and I 
told him a sufficient amount and added all the advice which 
Sir Thomas Percy had given me. He said that that was the 
very best course to follow and told me that by dinner-time 
on Friday the King would be at Leeds, where his uncle the 
Duke of York was to come to join him. 

This was excellent news for me, because I had letters of in- 
troduction to the Duke and also because he had seen me in 
the household of the noble King Edward his father, in the 
days when we were both young. This I felt would give me 
wider connexions in the household of King Richard. 

On the Friday morning Sir William de Lisle and I set out 
for Leeds Castle, riding together. On the way I asked him 
whether he had been on the Irish expedition with the King. 
He said he had. I then asked him about the place called St 
Patrick's Hole, and whether the stories told about it were 
true. He said they were and that when the King was in Dublin 
he and another English knight had been to it and had spent 
the whole night there, from sunset to sunrise. So I questioned 
him about the wonders and strange things which people 
say are to be seen there, and inquired whether there was any- 
thing in it. His answer was this : * When I and my friend had 


BOOK FOUR (1389-I400) 

passed through the gate of the cavern, which is called St 
Patrick's Purgatory, and had gone down three or four steps - 
for it is like going down to a cellar - a kind of heaviness came 
over us. We sat down on the stone steps and, as soon as we 
had done that, we were overcome by a strong desire to sleep, 
and we slept the whole night through.' I asked him whether, 
as they slept, they knew where they were and what visions 
came to them. He told me that they launched out in their 
sleep into strange dreams and great imaginings and saw, they 
felt, very many more things than they would have done in 
their own beds at home. Of this they were quite sure. ' But 
when we woke in the morning and they opened the gate for 
us, as we had arranged, we came out and could not remember 
a single thing we had seen. We considered it had all been a 

I asked him no more about this subject, but stopped, for I 
should have liked to question him about the expedition to 
Ireland and set him talking about that. But other knights with 
their followers rode up to speak to liim, so I dropped the 
conversation. We rode as far as Leeds Castle, to which the 
King came with all his retinue and where I found my lord 
Edmund, Duke of York. I made myself known to him and 
gave him the letters from his cousin the Count of Hainault 
and from the Count of Ostrevant. The Duke seemed to remem- 
ber me fairly well and gave me a warm welcome, saying : ' Sir 
John, keep near me and stay among my men. We will show 
you every kindness and consideration. That is your due for the 
sake of old times and of our royal mother to whom you were 
attached. We have not forgotten it.' I thanked him sincerely 
for saying this. So I was helped forward, both by him and by 
Sir Thomas Percy and Sir William de Lisle, and was taken into 
the chamber of the King and presented to him by his uncle of 
York. King Richard received me cheerfully and graciously, 
took all the letters which I offered him, and read them atten- 
tively. When he had done so, he told me that I had done well 
to come and that, as I had been of the household of his grand- 
parents the King and Queen, I still belonged to the house- 
hold of the King of England. On that day I did not show him 



the book which I had brought for him, for Sir Thomas Percy 
said the time was not yet ripe, since he was too busy with 
affairs of state. He was in the middle of deliberating two great 

These are^ first, the complaint brought by a delegation of Gascon 
barons against the royal decision to transfer the crown domains of 
Aquitaine to the Duke of l^ancaster. They wish to retain their 
direct allegiance to the King, but their request is not granted. The 
second question is that of the King's re-marriage. Froissart is in- 
formed of these matters bj his old friend. Sir Richard Sturj, whom 
he meets again when the court moves on to 'Rltham, and by Sir Jean 
de Grailly, illegitimate son of the Captal de Buch. 

'Now let's leave the Gascon question for the time being,' 
said Sir Jean de Grailly, *and speak of the second and the 
King's personal desires. I feel fairly sure, according to what I 
see and hear, that King Richard would like to get married 
again. He has made soundings in several places, but no wife 
has been found for him. If the Duke of Burgundy or the 
Count of Hainault had marriageable daughters, he would be 
glad to consider them, but they have none who are not already 
allotted. It was mentioned to him that the King of Navarre 
had sisters and daughters, but he is not interested in them. 
His uncle the Duke of Gloucester has a daughter quite old 
enough to embark on marriage, but the King will have none 
of her and says she is too closely related to him, being his 
cousin german. He is attracted to the daughter of the King of 
France and to no one else, and it has caused some dismay in 
this country that he should wish to marry his adversary's 
daughter. It does him no good with his people, but he takes 
no notice. He makes it clear, as he has always done, that he 
would rather make war elsewhere than on France, desiring - 
as we already know of him by past experience - that there 
should be a lasting peace between him and the King of France 
and their two countries. He says that the war has gone on 
too long between him and his ancestors and the French, that 
too many brave men have been killed in it, too many evil 
deeds perpetrated, and too many Christian people destroyed 
or ruined, to the detriment of the Christian faith. In an attempt 


BOOK FOUR (1389-I4OO) 

to change the King's mind - for the English do not find it 
agreeable for him to marry a Frenchwoman - he was told 
that the French King's daughter, whom he has in view, is too 
young, and that for another five or six years she could be no 
wife to him. His answer was that God will provide, that she 
will grow older, and that he would much rather she was too 
young than too old. The reason he gives in support of his de- 
sires and ideas is that if he marries her young, he can form 
her according to his wishes and guide and train her in English 
ways ; and he says that he is still young enough to wait until 
the lady is of age.' 

The deliberations and councils having been concluded^ the moment 
comes for Froissart to present his book. 

So it happened, on the Sunday after all the counsellors had 
left for their homes in London or elsewhere, except for the 
Duke of York and Sir Richard Stury who remained with the 
King, that these two, with Sir Thomas Percy, spoke to the 
King of my affairs and the King asked to see the book which 
I had brought. I took it to his chamber, for I had it ready 
with me, and laid it on his bed. He opened it and looked inside 
and it pleased him greatly. Well it might, for it was illumin- 
ated, nicely written and illustrated, with a cover of crimson 
velvet with ten studs of silver gilt and golden roses in the 
middle and two large gilded clasps richly worked at their 
centres with golden rose-trees. The King asked me what it was 
about and I tgld him: 'About lovel ' He was delighted by this 
answer and dipped into the book in several places and read, 
for he spoke and read French very well. Then he gave it to 
one of his knights, called Sir Richard Credon, to take into his 
private room and was more cordial than ever towards me. 


The English in Ireland (i^^^-j) 

O N the same Sunday when the King accepted my book with 
such appreciation, there was an English squire present called 
Henry Crystede,^ a very worthy and serious man who spoke 
French quite well. He made friends with me because he had 
seen how warmly the King and the great lords received me 
and he had also seen the book I had presented. He supposed, 
as I gathered from his w^ords, that I was a historian^ - and 
indeed Sir Richard Stury had said as much to him - and he 
told me what I will now set down. 

*Sir John,' said Henry Crystede, 'have you met anyone in 
this country or at the court who has told you about the ex- 
pedition which our lord the King made this year to Ireland 
and the way in which four Irish kings, great lords in their 
own land, came to do homage to him ? ' 

'No,' I said, in order to encourage him to go on. 

'Then I will tell you,' said the squire, who appeared to be a 
man of about fifty, ' so that, when you go back to your own 
country and have the time and inclination to do so, you can 
put it on permanent record.' 

' Thank you, indeed,' I said, feeling delighted by his words. 

Then Henry Crystede began to talk, and said this : 

'No English king within memory has led so large an army 
to Ireland as the King did this season, when he maintained 
himself on the Irish frontier for nine months at very great 
expense. The whole cost was wilhngly borne by the country, 
and the merchants of the English cities and towns felt that the 
money had been well spent when they saw the King returning 
with honour from the campaign, having employed none but 

1 . He appears only to be known from this chapter of Froissart's, in 
which he is called 'Henry Crystede'. The main authorities render this as 
'Christede or Castide' (E. Curtis, Richard II in Ireland, 1^94-9)) and 
' Castide' (T. O'Donovan, Annals of the Four Masters, Vol. IV). 

2. The word is Froissart's, hisforien. 


BOOK FOUR (1589-1400) 

gentry and archers in his war. He had with him easily four 
thousand knights and squires and thirty thousand archers, all 
of whom were well and punctually paid week by week, so 
that all were satisfied. I must tell you, to give you a clearer 
idea of the campaign, that Ireland is one of the most difficult 
countries in the world to fight against and subdue, for it is a 
strange, wild place consisting of tall forests, great stretches 
of water, bogs and uninhabitable regions. It is hard to find a 
way of making war on the Irish effectively for, unless they 
choose, there is no one there to fight and there are no towns 
to be found. The Irish hide in the woods and forests, where 
they live in holes dug under trees, or in bushes and thickets, 
like wild animals. When they learn that you have entered their 
territory to make war on them, they come together in various 
places by different paths, so that it is impossible to reach 
them. But they, if they see they have the advantage, can attack 
the enemy as it suits them, for they know the country back- 
wards and are skilled fighters. No mounted man-at-arms, 
however good his horse, can ride so fast that they cannot 
catch him. They spring out of the ground on to the horse's 
back and seize the rider from behind and pull him off, for 
they are very strong in the arm. Or else they stay up behind 
him and hold him in so tight a grip that he cannot defend 
himself. They carry sharp knives, with a big double-edged 
blade, like the head of a throwing-spear, with which they 
kill their enemies. And they never leave a man for dead 
until they have cut his throat like a sheep and slit open 
his belly to remove the heart, which they take away. Some, 
who know their ways, say that they eat it with great relish. 
They take no man for ransom, and when they see that 
they are getting the worst of a fight, they scatter and take 
cover in thickets and bushes and under the ground. So 
they disappear and it is impossible to know where they have 
gone to. 

* Even Sir William of Windsor, who had longer experience 
of campaigning on the Irish border than any other English 
knight, never succeeded in learning the lie of the country or in 
understanding the mentality of the Irish, who are very dour 



people, proud and uncouth, slow-thinking and hard to get 
to know or make friends with. They have no respect for 
pleasant manners or for any gentleman, for, although their 
country is ruled by kings, of whom there are a large number, 
they will have nothing to do with courtly behaviour, 
but cling to the rough ways in which they have been 
brought up. 

* Yet it is true that four Irish kings, among the most power- 
ful in the country, were persuaded to do homage to the King 
of England by peaceful means, not by battle or compulsion, 
and it was the Earl of Ormonde, whose territory borders 
theirs, who had most to do with it. He induced them to go to 
Dublin, where our lord the King then was and where they 
made submission to him and the crown of England. That is 
why the King and the whole realm consider the expedition to 
have been so brilliant and noteworthy. Even King Edward, 
of happy memory, never had so much success against them 
as King Richard has had. There is much honour in it, but the 
gain is small, since these kings are the most uncouth people 
you could imagine. I will tell you something of that and you 
will be able to compare them with other nationalities. I know 
about it from personal experience, for I was in charge of them 
for about a month at Dublin, on the instructions of our lord 
the King and his council, with the idea of introducing and 
accustoming them to English ways. That was because I can 
speak their language as well as I can speak French and 
English. I was brought up in Ireland and Earl Thomas of 
Ormonde, the father of the present Earl, kept me in his 
household and was very fond of me because I was a good 

'It happened once that the old Earl I have just mentioned 
was sent to the Irish border to make war on them, with three 
hundred lances and a thousand archers. The English have 
always had war with them in order to keep them down. Well, 
the Earl of Ormonde was leading this expedition against them 
and on that particular day he had mounted me on a fast and 
beautifully trained horse and I was riding beside him. The 
Irish had laid an ambush and when we came up to it they 


BOOK FOUR (1389-1400) 

Sprang out at us and began to hurl their javelins, while the 
archers on our side shot back at them. The Irish could not 
stand their fire, for their armour is very simple, and they re- 
treated. My master the Earl began to pursue them, while I 
followed him closely on my fine horse. But in the pursuit the 
horse took fright and bolted, carrying me so far into the Irish 
that our people could not rescue me. As I passed among them, 
one of them, showing immense agility, took a running leap 
up behind me and flung his arms round my body. Instead of 
attacking me with any weapon, he turned the horse aside, 
and we rode like that, the horse, him and me, for a good two 
hours until we reached a very remote spot covered with thick 
bushes. There he rejoined his men who had come to put 
themselves in safety among the bushes, where the English 
could never have followed them. He was obviously very 
pleased with my capture and he took me to where he lived, 
in a fortified house and town surrounded by woods and 
stockades and stagnant waters, of which the name is Herpeli- 
pin.^ The gentleman who had captured me was called Brin 
Costerec.^ He was a finely built man. I inquired after him from 
the kings I was with lately and was told that he is still alive, 
though very old. This Brin Costerec kept me with him for 
seven years and gave me one of his daughters in marriage. I 
had two daughters with her. Now I will tell you how I was set 

'In the seventh year of my living among the Irish, one of 
their kings, called Arthur McMorrough, King of Leinster, 
led an army against Lionel Duke of Clarence, the son of King 
Edward of England, and Sir William of Windsor. The Irish 
and the English met at a place fairly near the city of Leinster 
and fought a battle in which some were killed on both sides 
or taken prisoner. The English won the day and the Irish had 
to flee, King Arthur McMorrough among them. My wife's 
father was taken prisoner riding the horse he had won from 
me. The horse was recognized by the English and particularly 
by the Earl of Ormonde's men, and from this and what Brin 
Costerec told them they learnt that I was alive and living quite 

I . Sic Froissart. 


honourably in his manor at Herpelipin, with one of his 
daughters as my wife. . . . 

'It was proposed to him that, if he wanted his freedom, he 
should send me back to the EngHsh commanders, free of all 
obUgations, with my wife and children. He was most unwill- 
ing to make this bargain, for he was very fond of me, and of 
liis daughter, and of our children. But when he saw that 
there was no other way out, he agreed, but stipulated that my 
elder daughter should remain with him. So I came to England 
with my wife and second daughter, and was given a place to 
live in near Bristol, on the Severn. Both my girls are married. 
The one in Ireland has three sons and two daughters. The one 
I brought back with me has four sons and two daughters. 
And because the Irish language comes as easily to my tongue 
as English - for I have always gone on speaking it with my 
wife and have started my grandchildren on learning it as well 
as I have been able - I was appointed by the King and the 
great nobles of England to persuade, direct and guide in the 
ways of reason and the customs of this country those four 
Irish kings who have made their submission to the English 
crown and have sworn to observe it for ever. But I must say 
that those four kings, whom I initiated and instructed to the 
best of my ability, did prove to be very uncouth and gross- 
minded people. I had the greatest difficulty in poUshing them 
and moderating their language and characters. And even 
so, if they have made some progress, it is not very much. 
On many occasions they still shp back into their rough 

'The mission that was entrusted to me was based on the 
King's expressed wish that in behaviour, bearing and dress 
they should conform to the English pattern, because he 
wished to dub them knights. As a beginning, they were 
allotted a fine, big house in the city of DubHn, for themselves 
and their followers. I was instructed to live with them, never 
leaving them or going out, except in case of absolute neces- 
sity. I spent the first three or four days in their company, so 
as to get to know them, and they me, without contradicting 
anything they wished to do. I saw those kings behaving at 


BOOK FOUR (1389-1400) 

table in a way which was not at all seemly, and I said to my- 
self that I would change that. When they had sat down and 
were served with the first course, they would get their 
minstrels and their principal servants to sit with them and eat 
off their plates and drink from their goblets. They told me 
that such was the custom of the country. Except for their 
beds, they had everything in common. I allowed all this for 
three days, but on the fourth I had the tables in the hall 
arranged and laid in the correct manner. The four kings were 
seated at the high table, the minstrels at a table well away from 
theirs, and the servants at another. This appeared to make 
them very angry. They looked at each other and refused to 
eat, saying that it was a breach of the excellent custom in 
which they had been brought up. I answered, laughingly in 
order to placate them, that their previous arrangement 
was not a reasonable one and that they would have to 
abandon it and adopt the EngUsh usage, for those were my 
instructions and what the King and his council had appointed 
me to do. 

' On hearing this, they agreed to it, since they had made sub- 
mission to the King of England, and they respected my ar- 
rangements quite meekly, for as long as I was with them. They 
had another custom of which I already knew, for it is quite 
general in their country: they do not wear breeches. So I had 
a large quantity of linen drawers made and had them sent to 
the kings and their servants. I taught them to wear them and 
during the time I spent with them I cured them of many 
boorish and unseemly habits, both in dress and in other 
things. At first it seemed too great a change for them to wear 
silk robes trimmed with miniver and squirrel, for previously 
they had felt well enough dressed in an Irish cloak ; and they 
rode on the kind of saddles used for pack-horses, without 
stirrups. It was only with great difficulty that I got them to 
ride on the kind of saddles we have. 

* Once I asked them about their faith, and what they believed 
in, but they were not at all pleased by the question and I had 
to stop. They said that they believed in God and the Trinity, 
just the same as us, with no difference whatever. I asked them 



which pope they inclined to. They replied: "To the one in 
Rome, with no compromise." I asked them if they were will- 
ing to enter the order of chivalry, saying that the King of 
England wished to knight them, as is the custom in France 
and England and other countries. They replied that they were 
knights already and that that should be quite good enough. 
I asked how and where they had been made knights. They ex- 
plained that in Ireland a king knights his son at the age of 
seven; and that, if the father is dead, his nearest blood-rela- 
tion does it. The young aspirant has to joust with light lances, 
such as he can easily hold, against a shield set up in a meadow 
on a post. The more lances he breaks, the greater the honour 
for him. " By means of such tests knights are made very young 
in our country, and especially all the sons of kings." Although 
I was questioning them about it, I already knew all the pro- 
cedure. So I said no more on the subject, except to tell them 
that the knighthood which they had received in their youth 
was not enough for the King of England, but that he would 
give them a different kind. They asked what it would be and I 
said that it would be in church, which was the most honour- 
able way possible. They accepted my explanation fairly 

'About two days before our king intended to make them 
knights, they were visited by the Earl of Ormonde, who 
knows their language well because some of his lands lie along 
the Irish border. He had been sent to the house we occupied 
with a mandate from the King and his council, to give him 
greater authority in their sight. He began speaking to them 
as affably and courteously as he knew how and asked them 
what opinion they had formed of me. They all replied very 
pleasantly and sensibly: "He has explained and taught 
us the doctrine and usage of this country. We ought to be 
grateful to him, and so we are." The Earl of Ormonde 
liked this answer, for it was a reasonable one, and from one 
thing to another he came to speak of the order of chivalry 
which they were to receive. He expounded point by point 
and article by article the manner in which a knight should 
conduct himself and the virtues and obligations of chivalry, 


BOOK FOUR (1389-1400) 

and explained how those who undertook them entered the 

'AH the Earl said was greatly to the liking of those four Irish 
kings, whose names I have not yet given you, but I will do so. 
The first was the great O'Neill, King of Meath; the second 
O'Brien of Thomond ; the third Arthur McAlorrough, King 
of Leinster; the fourth O'Conor, King of Connaught and 

'They were knighted by the hand of King Richard of 
England in the cathedral church of Dublin, which is con- 
secrated to St John Baptist, on Lady Day in March, which 
this year was a Thursday. During the whole of the Wednes- 
day night they kept vigil in the cathedral and at mass next 
morning, with great solemnity, they were made knights, and 
with them Sir Thomas Ourghem, Sir Jonathan of Pado and 
his cousin Sir John of Pado. The four kings were dressed in 
rich robes, as befitted their rank, and they sat that day at the 
table of King Richard of England. It must be said that they 
were thoroughly stared at by the English and others who w^ere 
present, and not without reason, for they were foreign and 
different in appearance from the English and other nationali- 
ties, and people are naturally curious to see some new thing. 
It was certainly a great novelty to see those four kings of 
Ireland and you would have thought the same if you had been 

'Yes, Henry,' I said, 'I can well believe you, and I would 
have given a lot to see it. At the time all my preparations 
had been made to come to England and I should have 
come, but for the news of the death of Queen Anne of 
England,^ which made me put o/f my journey for the time 

Later, we took leave of each other and I went at once to find 
the March Herald. I said to him : ' March, tell me what are the 
arms of Henry Crystede, for I found him most friendly and 
obliging and he kindly described to me the King's expedi- 
tion to Ireland and the condition of those four Irish kings 
I. Richard Il's first wife, Anne of Bohemia, died summer 1394. 



whom he had, he says, under his guidance for over a fort^ 
nisht.' March replied: 'His arms are a chevron gules on a field 
Trjent, with three besants gules, two above the chevron and 

one below. , . , ^ r„- 

All these things I put down in writing, in order not to tor- 
get them. 


Two Marriages {ij9J-6) 

The Earl Marshal, the Earl of Rutland and the English am- 
bassadors spent about three weeks in Paris at the Court of 
France where they were very cordially received and lavishly 
entertained. The negotiations went so well that a marriage- 
agreement, which was the object of their visit, was concluded 
between the King of England and Isabella, the eldest daughter 
of King Charles of France. She was affianced and married by 
procuration to the Earl Marshal, in the King of England's 
name, and henceforward the lady had the title of Queen of 
England. At that time, I was told, it was a pleasure to see her, 
young though she was, for she well knew how to behave as a 

Around that time the Duke of Lancaster entered into a 
third marriage with a lady who had been the daughter of a 
knight of Hainault called Sir Paon de Ruet, in his day one of 
the knights of good Queen Philippa of England, who had 
loved the Hainaulters because she was of their nation. This 
lady, whom the Duke of Lancaster now married, was called 
Catherine; ^ in her youth she had been placed in the household 
of the Duke and Duchess Blanche of Lancaster. After Duchess 
Blanche had passed away and also Madam Constance of Cas- 
tile, daughter of King Peter of Spain, whom the Duke of 
Lancaster married as his second wife and by whom he had 
that daughter who became Queen of Spain - when, then", 
this second Duchess Constance had died, the Duke of Lan- 
caster had maintained this lady, Catherine de Ruet, who for 
her part had become married to an English knight. Both 
during and after the knight's lifetime, Duke John of Lancaster 
had always loved and maintained this lady Catherine, by whom 
he had three children, two sons and a daughter. The elder 

I. Better known as Catherine Swynford. Her sister, Philippa de Ruet, or 
Roet, married Geoffrey Chaucer. 



son was named John, otherwise Beaufort of Lancaster, and 
was a great favourite with his father. The other's name was 
Henry; ^ his father the Duke sent him to the school at Oxford 
and made a great jurist of him. This learned man was later 
Bishop of Lincoln, which is the noblest and richest diocese in 
the whole of England. Out of love for his children, the Duke 
of Lancaster married their mother. Madam Catherine de 
Ruet, which caused much astonishment in France and Eng- 
land, for she was of humble birth compared to the other two 
ladies. Duchess Blanche and Duchess Constance, whom the 
Duke had had as his wives before her. 

When the news of this marriage to Catherine de Ruet 
reached the great ladies of England, such as the Duchess of 
Gloucester, the Countess of Derby, the Countess of Arundel 
and other ladies with royal blood in their veins, they were sur- 
prised and shocked, considering it scandalous, and said : ' The 
Duke of Lancaster has quite disgraced himself by marrying 
liis concubine. And since she has got so far, it will mean that 
she will rank as the second lady in England. What a disgrace- 
ful reception for the new Queen of England when she comes.' 

They went on to say: 'We will leave her to do the honours 
all by herself. We will not go to any place where she may be. 
It would really demean us too much if that kind of duchess, 
who comes of humble stock and was the Duke's concubine 
for a very long time, inside and outside his marriages, were to 
take precedence over us. Our hearts would burst with vexa- 
tion, and rightly so.' 

The two who had most to say about this were the Duke 
and Duchess of Gloucester. They considered that the Duke of 
Lancaster had overstepped all bounds when he took his 
concubine to wife and said they would never recognize her 
marriage or call her lady or sister. The Duke of York soon 
got over it, for he was most often in the company of the King 
and his brother of Lancaster. The Duke of Gloucester was of 
different stuff, for he respected no one's opinions, although he 
was the youngest of all the brothers [the King's uncles]. He 
was incUned by nature to be proud and overbearing and he 
I. Froissart has 'Thomas' mistakenly. 

BOOK FOUR (1389-1400) 

was always in disagreement at the King's councils, unless 
they went exactly as he liked. 

This Catherine de Ruet remained Duchess of Lancaster for 
the rest of her life. She was the second lady in England and 
elsewhere after the Queen and she had a perfect knowledge 
of court etiquette because she had been brought up in it con- 
tinually since her youth. She loved the Duke of Lancaster 
and the children she had with him, and she showed it in life 
and in death. 


The T)ownfaJl of %ichard II {i^py-i^oo) 


Now I must say something about Thomas, Duke of Glou- 
cester, the youngest son of King Edward III, in connexion 
with his constant and heartfelt dislike of the French. He was 
rather pleased than sorry to hear of the defeat which they had 
suffered in Hungary' and, having with him a knight called 
John Lackinghay, the chief and most intimate of his coun- 
sellors, he confided in him and said: 

'Those frivolous French got themselves thoroughly 
smashed up in Hungary and Turkey. Foreign knights and 
squires who go and fight for them don't know what they 
are doing, they couldn't be worse advised. They are so over- 
brimming with conceit that they never bring any of their en- 
terprises to a successful conclusion. That was proved often 
enough in the wars my royal father and my brother the Prince 
of Wales had with them. They could never capture a castle or 
win a battle against us. I don't know why we have this truce 
with them, for if we started the war again - and we have a 
perfectly good reason for doing so - we should make hay of 
them. Particularly at this moment, when all the best of their 
knights are dead or prisoners. And the people of this country 
want war. They can't live decently without it, peace is no 
good to them. By God, Lackinghay, if I Hve a couple of years 
longer in good health, the war will be renewed. I won't be 
bound by treaties and pacts and promises - the French never 
kept any of theirs in the past. They used fraud and trickery 
exactly as it suited them to steal back the domains in Aqui- 
taine which had been made over to my royal father by an ab- 
solutely binding peace treaty. I pointed that out several times 
at the various meetings we had with them outside Calais. But 

I. During a 'crusade' against the Ottoman Turks in which a strong 
French contingent had participated and had suffered a disastrous defeat at 
Nicopolis (1396). 


BOOK FOUR (1389-1400) 

they answered me in such smooth and flowery language that 
somehow they always managed to fall on their feet and I could 
never persuade the King or my brothers to believe me. Now, 
if there was a strong king in England today who really wanted 
a war to recover his rightful possessions, he could find a 
hundred thousand archers and six thousand men-at-arms all 
eager to follow him over the sea and risk everything in his 
service. But there isn't one. England hasn't a king who wants 
war or enjoys fighting. If she had, things would be differ- 
ent. . . . 

'I am the youngest of King Edward's sons,' the Duke of 
Gloucester went on, *but if I was listened to I would be the 
first to renew the wars and put a stop to the encroachments we 
have suffered and are still suffering every day, thanks to our 
simplicity and slackness. I mean particularly the slackness of 
our leader the King, who has just allied himself by marriage 
with his principal enemy. That's hardly a sign that he wants 
to fight him. No, he's too fat in the arse and only interested in 
eating and drinking. That's no life for a fighting man, who 
ought to be hard and lean and bent on glory. I still remember 
my last campaign in France. I suppose I had two thousand 
lances and eight thousand archers with me. We sliced right 
through the kingdom of France, moving out and across from 
Calais, and we never found anyone who dared come out and 
fight us. . . . 

'Things cannot go on like this,' the Duke continued. 'He's 
raising such heavy taxes from the merchants that they're 
growing restless, and no one knows where the money goes 
to. I know he spends plenty, but it's on silly and futile things, 
and his people have to pay the bill. There will soon be serious 
trouble in this country. The people are beginning to grumble 
and say that they won't stand it much longer. He's letting it 
be known, since there is a truce now with France, that he 
thinks of leading an expedition to Ireland and employing his 
knights and archers that way. He's been there before and 
gained very little, for Ireland is not a place where there's 
anything worth winning. The Irish are a poor and nasty 
people, with a miserable country that is quite uninhabitable. 



Even if the whole of it were conquered one year, they'd get 
it back the next. Yes, my good Lackinghay, all that I'm telling 
you is absolute fact.' 

In conversation with his knight, the Duke of Gloucester 
used foolish words like these, and others still worse, as was 
disclosed later. He had conceived such a hatred for the King 
that he could find nothing to say in his favour. In spite of the 
fact that, with his brother, the Duke of Lancaster, he was the 
greatest man in England and ought to have taken a leading 
part in the government of the realm, he showed no interest in 
it. When the King sent for him, he went if it suited him, but 
more often he stayed away. If he did go, he was the last to 
arrive and the first to leave. As soon as he had given his opin- 
ion, he insisted on its being accepted without question, then 
took his leave immediately and mounted his horse to ride 
back to Pleshey, a place in Essex thirty miles from London 
where he owned a fine castle. It was there that he spent most 
of his time. 

The Duke worked in all kinds of subtle and secret ways to 
win over the Londoners to him, feeling that, if he had them 
on his side, the rest of England would be his also. He had a 
great-nephew, the son of the daughter of an elder brother of 
his called Lionel, who had been Duke of Clarence and had 
been married in Lombardy to the daughter of Galeazzo, Lord 
of Milan, and had died at Asti in Piedmont. The Duke of 
Gloucester w^ould have liked to see this great-nephew of his, 
whose name was John,^ Earl of March, on the throne of 
England, in place of King Richard, who he said was un- 
worthy to reign. He made this clear to those in whom he was 
rash enough to confide and he arranged for the Earl of March 
to come and visit him. When he was there, he revealed all his 
most secret ambitions to him, saying that he himself had been 
chosen to appoint a new king for England and that Richard 
would be shut up, and his wife with him. There would be 
sufficient provision for their eating and drinking as long as 
they lived. He entreated the Earl of March to agree to this and 
I. In fact Roger (Roger Mortimer). 

BOOK FOUR (1389-1400) 

to rely on his word, saying that he could make it good and 
that he already had the support of the Earl of Arundel, Sir 
William and Sir John Arundel, the Earl of Warwick and 
numerous other barons and prelates. 

The proposition dismays the young Earl of March, but he prevari- 
cates, saying he needs time to think it over. Having sworn to observe 
secrecy, he leaves for Ireland and has no more dealings with Gloucester, 

The Duke then stirs up the merchants of London, urging them to 
ask to he relieved of taxation originally imposed to meet the expenses 
of the wars, hut now squandered on King Richard's entertainments. 
Together with the councillors of several other towns, they petition the 
King for relief but are temporarily placated by the Dukes of York 
and Lancaster, and summoned to attend a parliament at Westminster. 
Here again, Lancaster speaks for the King: 

*It is my Sovereign's pleasure, men of London, that I 
should reply specifically to your demands, and I do this on the 
instructions of the King and his council and in accordance 
with the will of the prelates and nobility of his realm. You are 
aware that, in order to avert greater evils and provide safe- 
guards against certain dangers, it was decided and unani- 
mously agreed by you and the councils of all the cities and 
large towns in England that a tax of thirteen per cent should 
be levied on sellers of goods - in the form which has now been 
current for about six years. 

' In consideration of this the King granted you a number of 
concessions, which he does not wish to withdraw, but on the 
contrary increase and amplify progressively, provided you are 
deserving of them. But should you prove rebellious and re- 
fractory to an undertaking which you willingly entered into, 
he annuls everything he has conceded. And here present are 
the nobles, prelates and holders of fiefs, bound by oath to the 
King, and he to them, to aid each other mutually in the main- 
tenance of all measures lawfully decreed and established in the 
best interests of all, to the execution of which oath they have 
subscribed in full knowledge. Take note of this and remember 
that the King's establishment is large and powerful. If it has 
increased in some ways, it has diminished in others. His rents 
and other sources of revenue yield him less than in the past, 



and he and his officers had to bear heavy expenses when war 
was renewed with France. Then great expenditure was in- 
curred by the emissaries who went over to negotiate with the 
French. The preliminaries to the King's marriage have also 
been very costly. And, although there is now a truce between 
the two countries, much money has to be spent on the garri- 
sons of the castles and towns which owe allegiance to the 
King, whether in Gascony or the districts of Bordeaux, 
Bayonne and Bigorre, or those of Guines and Calais, as well 
as all our coastal area, which has to be guarded with its ports 
and havens. 

' On the other side, the whole of the Scottish border, with 
its roads and passes, requires guarding, and so does the fron- 
tier in Ireland, which is a lengthy one. All these things and 
many others relating to the royal establishment and the pres- 
tige of England cost large sums of money every year. The 
nobles and prelates of the realm know and understand this 
better than you, who are busy with your manufacturing and 
your merchandizing. Be thankful that you have peace and re- 
member that no one pays unless he has the means and is doing 
business. Foreigners have to pay considerably more than you 
in this country. You get off much more lightly than they do in 
France and Lombardy and other places to which quite pos- 
sibly you send your goods, for they are taxed and re-taxed 
two or three times a year, while you are subject to a reasonable 
assessment based on the amount of trade you do.' 

The I^ondon merchants meekly submit. The Duke of Gloucester, 
who has attended the parliament, keeps silent and returns to his seat 
at Tleshej. 

Soon after, the Comte de Saint-Pol arrives from France on a good- 
will mission to Richard and his infant queen. Informed of the dangers 
threatening the King, he advises him to take action before it is too 

I was informed that, about a month after the Count of 
Saint-Pol had returned to France, a report spread through Eng- 
land which was highly detrimental to the King. The general 
rumour was that the Count had come over to discuss some 
way of giving Calais back to the French. No single question 


BOOK FOUR (1389-I400) 

could have disturbed the English people more thoroughly 
than this. The consequence was that the Londoners went to 
see the Duke of Gloucester at Pleshey. The Duke neither 
calmed them nor denied the rumours, but made the most he 
could of them by saying: 'It's extremely likely. The French 
wouldn't mind if he took all their King's daughters, provided 
they became masters of Calais.' 

Depressed by this reply, the Londoners said that they would 
go and speak to the King and tell him squarely how disturbed 
opinion was. 'Certainly,' said the Duke. 'Speak out loud and 
pointedly, and don't be shy about it. Listen carefully to what 
he says in reply and then you will be able to tell me about it 
when I next see you. I will advise you according to the answer 
he gives. It's highly probable that some crooked business is 
afoot. The Earl Marshal, who is captain and governor of 
Calais, has already been twice into France and stayed in Paris, 
and he had more to do with arranging the marriage with the 
French King's daughter than anyone else. The French are very 
clever at laying their plans far ahead and slowly nearing their 
aim. And they give big promises and rewards if it helps them 
to gain their ends.' 

With the Duke's encouragement, the men of London went 
one day to Eltham to see the King. With him at that time were 
his two half-brothers, the Earls of Kent and Huntingdon, the 
Earl of Salisbury, the Archbishop of Canterbury, his confessor 
the Archbishop of Dublin, Sir Thomas Percy, Sir William de 
Lisle, Sir Richard Credon, Sir John Golafre and several 
knights of his household. The Londoners explained the reason 
for their visit, putting it in very respectful and temperate 
terms, and they told him of the scandalous rumour which was 
spreading through England. 

The King assures them that Saint-Pol's visit was a purely friendly 
one, with no ulterior motive. Lx)rd Salisbury also speaks out to condemn 
the disseminators of idle rumours. These could easily lead to a popular 
rising, ivith harmful consequences for them all. I^argely reassured, the 
Londoners leave, but Richard remains shaken by the episode and begins 
to distrust all his uncles, though his chief fear is of Gloucester. Soon 
after, he receives information, considered reliable, of the plot to seif(e 



the Queen and himself and put them under guard. The country is to he 
governed temporarily by I^ancasfer, York^ Gloucester and Arundely 
each taking a different region. A. pretext is to he found for ending the 
truce with ¥ ranee and for sending the infant Queen hack to her father 
if she so chooses. 

If the King of France wished to have his daughter back, she 
was still very young and aged only eight and a half, so she 
could well wait until she reached womanhood. When she was 
twelve she might quite possibly regret her marriage, for she 
had been married to Richard in all innocence, and it had been 
an unjust step to break off her match with the heir of Brittany. 
If, however, she chose to stay and observe the present marriage 
arrangements, she would remain Queen of England and would 
have her dowry. But she should never be deflowered by the 
King of England; and, if he died before she reached the age, 
they would examine the question of sending her back to 

Unrest grows in the country , and with it Kichard^s anxiety. He 
appeals to his uncles of Lancaster and York to give him their advice 
and support. 

They said to him: *Sire, be patient and leave things to 
time. We know that our brother Gloucester is the most un- 
ruly man in England, and the rashest. But he is only one man 
and can achieve nothing by himself. If he is working on one 
side, we will work on the other. As long as you will allow us 
to advise you, you will take no notice of our brother. He 
sometimes says all kinds of things which are quite baseless. 
He alone, or his intimates, cannot break the truce with France, 
and as for shutting you up in a castle or separating you from 
your wife, the Queen, we will never allow such things to 
happen. He is deluding himself when he talks in that way. 
So be reassured, matters will right themselves. What one 
sometimes thinks or says is not the same as what one actually 

With such arguments the Dukes of Lancaster and York 
calmed their nephew Richard of England. 

Seeing, however, that the affairs of the realm were be- 
ginning to go badly and that a great feud was growing up 


BOOK FOUR (1389-1400) 

between the King and Gloucester, they did not wish to be 
involved. Taking leave of the King for a time, they left the 
court with the whole of their families and withdrew each to his 
own place. The Duke of Lancaster took his wife, Catherine 
Ruet,' who for some time had been a companion to the young 
Queen, and took the opportunity to go hunting stags and 
deer, as the custom is in England. The King remained with 
his followers in the London region. Later his two uncles 
bitterly regretted having left him, for soon after their depar- 
ture things happened which caused deep disquiet in the whole 
of England and which would not have occurred if they had 
stayed. They would have given very different advice from that 
which the King now received from his followers. 

Kichard^s intimates work on his fear of Gloucester, which some 
of them share. They stress the charges brought against him by 
popular rumour, particularly those of being a weak and cowardly 

King Richard noted all these things which were said to him 
in the privacy of his chamber and took them so much to heart 
(he was apprehensive by nature) that, shortly after the Duke 
of Lancaster and York had gone away, he decided upon a bold 
and daring move. He had reflected that it was better to de- 
stroy than to be destroyed and that speedy action could pre- 
vent his uncle from ever being a threat to him again. Since he 
could not carry out his plans without help, he confided in the 
man whom he trusted most, his cousin the Earl Marshal, Earl 
of Nottingham, telling him exactly what he wanted done. The 
Earl Marshal, who preferred the King to the Duke of Glou- 
cester, having received many favours from him, revealed 
the King's plans to no one, except to those whose assistance 
he required, for he also could not act alone. What had been 
agreed between them will become clear as you read on. 

On the pretext of hunting deer, the King went to a manor 
in Essex called Havering-atte-Bower, twenty miles from Lon- 
don and about the same distance from Pleshey, where the 
Duke now lived almost permanendy. One afternoon the King 
left Havering-atte-Bower with only a part of his retinue, hav- 
I. Catherine Swynford. 


ing left the others at Eltham with the Queen, and reached 
Pleshey at about five o'clock. It was a very fine, hot day with 
no one keeping watch, and he entered the castle unnoticed, until 
someone shouted : ' The King is here ! ' The Duke of Glou- 
cester had already finished supper, for he was a sparing eater 
and did not linger over his meals. He came out to meet the 
King in the courtyard of the castle, receiving him with all the 
forms of respect due to the sovereign, which he well knew 
how to pay. The Duchess and her children who were there 
did the same. Then the King went into the hall and from there 
into the chamber. A table was set for him and he ate a little. 
He had already said to the Duke : ' Uncle, have some of your 
horses saddled - not all, but half-a-dozen - I want you to come 
back to London with me. I have a meeting with the Londoners 
tomorrow at which my uncles of Lancaster and York will cer- 
tainly be present, and I shall want your advice on how to deal 
with a request they are bringing to me. Tell your steward that 
the rest of your people must follow tomorrow and join you 
in London then.' 

The Duke, who had no suspicions, readily agreed. The 
King soon finished eating and got up. Everyone was ready; 
the King took leave of the Duchess and her children and 
mounted his horse, as did the Duke, taking with him from 
Pleshey only four squires and four servants. They took the 
Bondelay ^ road to have an easier ride and avoid Brentwood and 
other towns and they travelled fast, for the King pretended to 
be in a hurry to reach London. He and his uncle chatted to- 
gether as they rode and made such progress that soon they 
came near to Stratford and the Thames. There, in a narrow 
place, the Earl Marshal was waiting in ambush. When the 
King had almost reached the spot, he left his uncle's side 
and galloped ahead of him. The Earl Marshal appeared with 
a number of men on horseback and, going up to the Duke of 
Gloucester, said: 'I arrest you in the King's name.' The Duke 
was astounded and saw clearly that he had been betrayed and 
began to shout after the King. . . . 

Richard, on whose orders all this was being done, affected 
I . Sic Froissart. Perhaps Billericay. 

BOOK FOUR (1389-1400) 

not to hear, but rode straight on and came that night to the 
Tower of London. 

His uncle of Gloucester had a very different lodging, for in 
spite of his protests, he was forced into a barge on the Thames 
and transferred from that to a ship which lay at anchor in the 
middle of the river. The Earl Marshal and his men also went 
on board and they sailed down the river, reaching Calais 
late the next day with the help of a following wind. Only the 
King's officers in Calais, of which the Earl Marshal was the 
governor, knew about their arrival. . . . 

CD ' 

Early the next morning the King left the Towxr of London 
for Eltham, where he remained. In the evening of the same 
day the Earls of Arundel and Warwick were taken to the 
Tower and imprisoned there, to the amazement of London and 
the rest of England. Many strong protests were raised, but no 
one dared to go against the King's orders for fear of incur- 
ring his anger. 

The people console themselves with the thought that 'Lancaster and 
York will restrain the King. Meanwhile, the Duchess of Gloucester 
has appealed directly to the two dukes. They send her reassuring 
answers and remain passive. 

When the Duke of Gloucester had been taken into the castle 
of Calais and found himself shut in there and deprived of his 
attendants, he began to feel very afraid. He said to the Earl 
Marshal: *Why have I been spirited out of England and 
brought here ? You seem to be treating me as a prisoner. Let 
me take a walk through the town and see the fortifications and 
the people and the sentries.' 'Sir,' replied the Earl Marshal, 'I 
dare not do as you ask, for my hfe is answerable for your 
safe-keeping. My lord the King is a little displeased with you 
at the moment. He wishes you to stay here and put up with 
our company for a time. You will do that until I receive 
further instructions, which I hope will be soon. As for your 
own displeasure, I am very sorry about it and I wish I could 
relieve it. But I have my oath to the King, which I am bound 
in honour to obey.' 

That was all the Duke could get from him and concluding, 



from Other signs that he noticed one day, that his life was in 
danger, he asked a priest who had already sung mass for him 
to hear his confession. He confessed at some length, kneeling 
before the altar in a pious frame of mind, devout and con- 
trite. He prayed and asked God's mercy for all the things he 
had done and repented of all his sins. It was indeed high time 
for him to purge his conscience, for death was even nearer to 
him than he thought. 

According to my information, just at the hour when the 
tables were laid for dinner in the castle of Calais and he was 
about to wash his hands, four men rushed out from a room 
and, twisting a towel round his neck, pulled so hard on the 
two ends that he staggered to the floor. There they finished 
strangling him, closed his eyes and carried him, now dead, 
to a bed on which they undressed his body. They placed him 
between two sheets, put a pillow under his head and covered 
him with fur mantles. Leaving the room, they went back into 
the hall, ready primed with their story, and said this: that 
the Duke had had an apoplectic fit while he was washing his 
hands and had been carried to his bed with great difl&culty. 
This version was given out in the castle and the town. Some 
believed it, but others not. 

T}Po days later, Gloucester is reported to be dead. The Earl Mar- 
shal and all the 'English officers in Calais put on mourning. The re- 
action in Trance is one of relief . In England, opinions are divided. 

After the Duke's death at Calais, he was given an honour- 
able embalmment and put in a lead coflRn with a wooden 
casing and so sent by sea to England. The ship carrying him 
anchored under Hadleigh castle, on the Thames, and from 
there the body was conveyed very simply to Pleshey and 
placed in the church of the Holy Trinity which the Duke him- 
self had founded, appointing twelve canons to perform the 
divine services ; and there he was buried. 

It may be said that the Duchess of Gloucester, with her son 
Humphrey and her two daughters, were naturally deeply dis- 
tressed when their husband and father was brought home 
dead, and the Duchess had to suffer another blow when 
the King had her uncle. Earl Richard of Arundel, publicly 


BOOK FOUR (1589-1400) 

beheaded in Cheapside, London. None of the great barons 
dared to thwart the King or dissuade him from doing this. 
King Richard was present at the execution and it was carried 
out by the Earl Marshal, who was married to Lord Arundel's 
daughter and who himself blindfolded him. 

The Earl of Warwick was in great danger of being beheaded 
also, but the Earl of Salisbury, who was high in the King's 
favour, interceded for him, as did other nobles and prelates, 
with such strong arguments that the King granted their request. 

Warwick is reprieved, on Salisbury s plea, and banished for life to 
a comfortable exile in the Isle of Wights The Dukes of Lancaster 
and York, highly alarmed by the death of their brother Gloucester, 
now bestir themselves and come to London. 

At that date King Richard, who was established at Eltham, 
summoned to him all those who held fiefs from him and owed 
him homage. He assembled and maintained more than ten 
thousand archers round London and in the counties of Kent 
and Sussex. He had with him his half-brother, Sir John Hol- 
land, the Earl Marshal, the Earl of Salisbury and many of the 
English knights and barons, and he sent orders to the Lon- 
doners that they were not to harbour the Duke of Lancaster. 
They replied that they knew nothing against the Duke to 
make him unacceptable. Lancaster therefore remained in Lon- 
don, with his son the Earl of Derby, and also the Duke of 
York, whose son, the Earl of Rutland, was on intimate terms 
with the King. With the Earl Marshal, the King loved him 
beyond reason. 

Rutland mediates between King Richard and Lancaster, who re- 
flects that a breach with Richard and hence with the French, who 
would support him, might prove harmful to his two daughters, who 
are married to the Kings of Spain and Portugal. He is persuaded 
grudgingly to make peace with Richard and receives his promise to act 
in future only on his advice. The promise is never observed. 

So King Richard was reconciled with his uncles over the 
death of the Duke of Gloucester and went on to rule more 
harshly than before. He moved his establishment to Essex, 

I. This seems to have been a mistake of Froissart's. Warwick was 
banished to the Isle of Man. 


formerly the domain of the Duke of Gloucester and which 
ought to have gone to his heir, Humphrey. But the King took 
freehold possession of it all. The rule in England is that the 
King has custody of the inheritances of all minors who lose 
their fathers and that the inheritances are returned to them 
when they are twenty-one. King Richard made himself the 
trustee of his young cousin, Gloucester's heir, and took over 
all his lands and possessions for his own benefit. He obliged 
young Humphrey to live in his household, and the Duchess 
and her two daughters in that of the Queen. He removed from 
Humphrey the hereditary office of Constable of England, 
which his father had held in his lifetime, and gave it to his 
cousin the Earl of Rutland. He began to reign with greater 
pomp than any EngUsh king before him; none had come with- 
in a hundred thousand nobles yearly of the amount he now 
spent. He likewise brought to his court the heir of the Earl 
of Arundel, whom he had had beheaded in London, as already 
related. Because one of the Duke of Gloucester's knights 
called Corbet spoke too freely one day about the King and his 
council, he had him seized and beheaded. Sir John Lacking- 
hay was also in great danger, but when he saw that things 
were going against him, he tried to put a smooth face on it, 
left the service of his lady the Duchess of Gloucester, and 
went to live elsewhere. 

In those days, not even the greatest in England dared to 
criticize the King's acts or intentions. He had his private circle 
of advisers, the knights of his chamber, who persuaded him 
to do everything they wanted. And the King kept in his pay 
a retinue of two thousand archers who guarded him day and 
night, for he felt by no means safe from his uncles or from the 
family of the Earl of Arundel. 


It was only too true that the Duke of Gloucester's death 
had greatly disturbed several of the great lords of England, 
some of whom talked and complained confidentially among 


BOOK FOUR (1389-1400) 

themselves. But the King had so subdued them that none dared 
to show his dissatisfaction openly, for Richard had had the 
word spread throughout England that anyone who spoke in 
favour of either the Duke of Gloucester or the Earl of Arundel 
would be branded as false, miscreant and a traitor and would 
incur his extreme anger. Such threats had imposed silence on 
many people who were in strong disagreement with his re- 
cent actions. 

In these circumstances the Earl of Derby and the Earl Mar- 
shal were having a conversation on various matters and, from 
one thing to another, came to speaking about the King and 
his council in which he placed so much trust. The Earl Mar- 
shal took particular notice of a remark made with the best in- 
tentions by the Earl of Derby, who meant it as a confidential 
opinion and never thought that it would be repeated. There 
was nothing disloyal or excessive about his words, which 
were these: 'Well, good cousin, what does our cousin the 
King think he is doing ? Does he want to drive all the nobles 
out of England? There will be none left soon. He shows 
clearly that he has no desire to increase his country's power.' 
The Earl Marshal made no reply, but affected to ignore a re- 
mark which he thought was highly offensive to the King. 
However, he could not keep it to himself, feeling that the 
Earl of Derby was on the point of stirring up trouble in Eng- 
land, with the support of the Londoners who loved him 
greatly. He decided - since the devil was no doubt working 
on his mind and what must be, must be - that the Earl of 
Derby's words must be repeated to the King in such a public 
way, and in the presence of so many of the nobility, that an 
open scandal would be unavoidable. So soon afterwards he 
went to the King and, thinking to please him and enter his 
good graces, he said: *My lord, all your enemies and ill- 
wishers are not yet dead or out of England.' 'What do you 
mean by that, cousin?' said the King, changing colour. 'I 
know what I mean,' replied the Earl Marshal, 'but for the mo- 
ment I will say no more. But in order to deal promptly and 
effectively with the matter, you should hold a solemn feast 
this coming Easter and summon to it all the members of your 



family who are in England, not forgetting to invite the 
Earl of Derby, and then you will hear some very peculiar 
things which you do not suspect at present. They touch you 

The King became very thoughtful when he heard this and 
asked the Earl Marshal to be more explicit, assuring him that 
whatever he told him would remain secret. I do not know 
whether he said more then, but if he did the King gave no 
outward sign of it and allowed the Earl Marshal to proceed 
with his intention, with the results which I will describe. The 
King announced a solemn festival at Eltham, to be held on 
Palm Sunday, to which all his kindred were invited. He par- 
ticularly urged his uncles of Lancaster and York to come with 
their children, and they, suspecting nothing amiss, appeared 
with their full retinues. 

After dinner on the day of the festival the King retired to 
his robing-room with his uncles and the other nobles. He had 
not been there long when the Earl Marshal, his plan fully pre- 
pared, came and knelt before him, saying: 'Beloved sire and 
mighty King, I am your kinsman and liegeman and Marshal 
of England. I am closely bound to you by word and oath. I 
have sworn with my hand in yours never to be in any place or 
company where evil is spoken against your royal majesty. If I 
w^ere, and concealed it in any way whatsoever, I would rightly 
be called false, miscreant and a traitor,^ which thing I w411 
never tolerate, but rather will do my duty to you in all cir- 

The King looked at him fixedly and said : ' Why do you say 
this. Earl Marshal? We wish to know.' 

'My very dear and mighty lord,' replied the Earl, 'I will 
tell you because I cannot suffer or conceal a thing which may 
be prejudicial to you. Call out the Earl of Derby and I will 

I. This phrase, used four times by Froissart {^faux, mauvais et frditre^), 
was evidently the formula of indictment. To justify 'miscreant' for the 
second term in English, see Shakespeare, Richard II, I, i, which also con- 
tains a choice of other injurious epithets : ' Thou art a traitor and a mis- 
creant . . . foul traitor ... a slanderous coward and a villain . . . false 
traitor and injurious villain . . . false Mowbray . . . There I throw my gage.' 

In Shakespeare, as historically, the challenge was made by Derby. 


BOOK FOUR (1389-1400) 

Speak openly.' The Earl of Derby was called forward by the 
King, and the Earl Marshal, who had spoken on his knees, was 
told to stand up. 

When the Earl of Derby had come forward in all innocence, 
the Earl Marshal said to him: 

*Lord Derby, I maintain that you thought and spoke what 
you ought not to have done against your natural lord and 
master, the King of England, in saying that he is unworthy of 
ruling land or kingdom, since without forms of justice or con- 
sultation with his men, he unsettles his realm and with no 
shadow of justification drives out from it the gallant men who 
would help him to protect and uphold it: wherefore I offer 
you my gage and am ready to prove by my body against yours 
that you are false, miscreant and a traitor.' 

The Earl of Derby was astounded by these words and drew 
back, standing very stiffly for some time without speaking 
or consulting his father or his men on what he ought to say 
in reply. When he had reflected a little, he stepped forward 
with his hat in his hand and, coming before the King and the 
Earl Marshal, he said : ' Earl Marshal, I say that you are false, 
miscreant and a traitor. All that I will prove by my body 
against yours and here is my glove.' Upon which the Earl 
Marshal, noting the challenge and being clearly willing to 
fight the Earl, picked up the glove and said : * Lord Derby, I 
call the King and all these lords to witness your words. I shall 
turn your word to derision and prove mine true.' 

Both earls then drew back among their followers; the 
ceremony of serving wine and sweetmeats was abandoned, 
for the King showed signs of extreme displeasure. He went 
into his private room and shut himself in there. His two 
uncles remained outside with all their children and the Earls 
of Salisbury and Huntingdon. Shortly afterwards the King 
called the last two in to him and asked them what was the best 
thing to do. They answered, 'Sire, send for your Constable 
and then we will tell you.' The Earl of Rutland, Constable of 
England, was summoned and, when he entered, was told: 
* Constable, go out to the Earl of Derby and the Earl Marshal, 
and make them give assurances that neither will leave Eng- 



land without the King's permission.' The Constable did as he 
was instructed, then went back to the PCing's room. 

As you can well imagine, the whole court was in a state of 
confusion and many of the nobles and knights were greatly 
disturbed, privately blaming the Earl Marshal. But he could 
not take back what he had said and he appeared to have no 
thought of doing so. He was far too great and haughty, with 
a heart full of pride and presumption. So the various lords 
left, each returning to his own house. 

The Duke of Lancaster, though outwardly calm, was greatly 
upset by the words that had been exchanged. He felt that the 
King ought not to have taken them in the way he did, but 
should have passed them over. This was also the opinion of 
the majority of the English barons. The Earl of Derby took 
up his residence in London, where he had his palace. His 
guarantors were his father, his uncle the Duke of York, the 
Earl of Northumberland and many other prominent lords, for 
he was greatly liked in England. The Earl Marshal was sent 
to the Tower of London and took up residence there, and the 
two earls made lavish preparations for the combat. Lord 
Derby sent messengers urgently to the Duke of Milan in 
Lombardy to obtain armour of his size and choice. The Duke 
welcomed his request and allowed a knight whom the Earl 
had sent, a certain Sir Francis, to make a choice among his 
entire collection of armour. Not content with that, after the 
knight had inspected the plate and mail and picked out all the 
pieces he wanted, the Duke of Milan, inspired by sheer 
generosity and the desire to please the Earl, sent four of the 
best armourers in Lombardy back to England with the knight 
to ensure that the Earl of Derby was fitted to his exact size. 
The Earl Marshal, for his part, sent to places in Germany, 
where he thought his friends would help him and defray his 
expenses, and he also equipped himself lavishly for the day. 
The whole business proved very costly to the two noblemen, 
each striving to outdo the other. In particular, the Earl of 
Derby spent much more on his preparations than the Earl 
Marshal on his. I must say that, when the Earl Marshal first 
embarked on the affair, he expected stronger support and 


BOOK FOUR (1589-I400) 

assistance from the King than he received. But those who 
were near to Richard advised him thus : ' Sire, you should not 
intervene too openly in this business. Say nothing and let 
them get on with it; they will manage all right. The Earl of 
Derby is extraordinarily popular in this country, especially 
among the Londoners, and if they saw you taking sides with 
the Earl Marshal against him, you would lose their favour 
entirely.' King Richard saw the force of these arguments and 
realized that they were sound. He therefore hid his hand as far 
as he could and left the two to provide themselves with arms 
and trappings on their own account. 

Nevertheless, public opinion is critical of Richard's inaction. It is 
felt that he should have used his authority to stifle the ajfair. 
caster deplores the matter in private hut is too proud to approach the 
King, since his son's honour is involved. The Londoners and some of 
the nobles express their strong support of Derby, saying that he has a 
better claim to the throne than Richard, who was imposed upon them 
by his grandfather, Edward III. Richard again consults his inner 
council and receives advice which he proceeds to follow. 

A short time after the King had held this council, he sum- 
moned many of the prelates and great barons of England to 
Eltham. When they were assembled, he acted on the advice 
he had been given and called before him the Dukes of Lan- 
caster and York, the Earls of Northumberland and Salisbury, 
his half-brother the Earl of Huntingdon, and the other great 
lords of his kingdom who had come to witness the combat. 
The Earl of Derby and the Earl Marshal were at Eltham also, 
each with his followers and an apartment of his own. They 
were forbidden to meet, the King letting it be known that he 
wished to stand between them and that he was highly dis- 
pleased by all they had said and done, which were not things 
to be easily forgiven. He then sent the Constable and the 
Steward of England with four other noblemen to obtain a 
promise from the two adversaries that they would obey any 
order that the King gave them. Both pledged themselves to 
do so and their promise was reported to the King in the pres- 
ence of the whole court. The King then said : 



'I proclaim and command that the Earl Marshal, on the 
grounds that he has sown dissension in this country and ut- 
tered words of which there is no other evidence but his own 
account of them, shall put his affairs in order and leave the 
kingdom for any place or land where he pleases to live, this 
banishment being perpetual with no hope of return. Next, I 
proclaim and command that our cousin the Earl of Derby, on 
the grounds that he has angered us and is in some part the cause 
of the Earl Marshal's offence and punishment, shall prepare 
to leave the kingdom within fifteen days and go to whatever 
place he chooses. The length of his banishment is ten years, 
unless we recall him. In his case we may exercise our power of 
recall or remission at any time which may seem good to us.' 

This sentence was received with fair satisfaction by the 
lords who were present. 

The Harl Marshal, having banked funds for his use with the l^om- 
bards in Bruges, leaves for Calais, of which he had once been the 
governor. From there he makes his way to Cologne. Derby takes for- 
mal leave of the King, who remits four years of his exile as had pre- 
viously been planned. Amid the lamentations of the citizens of Lx)n- 
don, he also leaves for Calais. Declining the invitation of the Count of 
Ostrevant to come to Hainault, he goes on to Paris, where he is wel- 
comed by the French royal family. In February 1^99, his father dies. 
Far from taking this opportunity to recall and pardon him, Kichard 
seif^es the Lancastrian estates. This makes little difference to the 
favour which Derby enjoys in France. 

As a matter of fact, the King of France never for a moment 
had unfavourable thoughts about him, and neither had his 
brother or his uncles. They had great love and respect for the 
Earl of Derby and wanted to have him with them even more; 
and very good company he was to them. They considered the 
point that he was a widower and free to re-marry, and that 
the Duke of Berry had a daughter, already widowed twice but 
still young, called Marie. She had been married to Louis de 
Blois, who had died young, and then to Lord Philip of Artois, 
Count of Eu, who had died on the way back from Hungary. 
Marie de Berry would have been about twenty-three at that 
date. Her marriage with the Earl of Derby had been 


BOOK FOUR (1389-1400) 

considered and negotiated and was on the point of being con- 
cluded, for it was well known that the Earl was heir to great 
estates in England. Moreover, the King of France was in- 
fluenced by the thought of his daughter, the young Queen of 
England. It was felt by him and other French lords that two 
great ladies such as they were and so closely related would be 
excellent company for each other, and also that the marriage 
would draw the two countries closer in peace and friendship. 
Those who held this opinion w^ere quite right, but the match 
came to nothing. It was fated to be broken off, thanks to the 
intervention of King Richard and his council. 

Richard sends the Rarl of Salisbury to Paris to inform the French 
of his displeasure at the prospect. The marriage project is dropped. 


Not long after the Earl of Salisbury's return to England, King 
Richard had it announced throughout his kingdom and as far 
as Scotland that a tournament was to be held at Windsor, in 
which forty home knights and forty squires would challenge 
all comers. They were to be clothed in green with the device 
of a white falcon. Thfi Queen was to be there, accompanied 
by a large suite of ladies. The feast was held. The Queen came 
in full state, but very few lords attended, for at least two- 
thirds of the English knights and squires were strongly hostile 
to the King, not only because of the banishment of the Earl of 
Derby and the wrong done to his children, but also because of 
the murder of the Duke of Gloucester at Calais and the execu- 
tion of the Earl of Arundel in London, so that none of the 
families of those nobles came to the feast. There was almost 
no one there. 

At that feast the King made arrangements to go to Ireland 
to find a use for his time and his men. He left Queen Isabella 
and all her court at Windsor and set out for Bristol. There and 
in the surrounding country he assembled his expedition and 
supplies. He had at least two thousand lances of knights and 
squires and ten thousand archers. When the Londoners heard 
where he was going they began to murmur together and make 



predictions. 'Richard of Bordeaux is off to Bristol and Ire- 
land,' they said. 'He's going to his destruction. He'll never 
come back in peace, any more than his ancestor King Edward, 
who ruled so badly that he paid for it, relying too much on the 
advice of Lord Despenser. Richard of Bordeaux also has had 
such bad and feeble counsellors that it cannot be concealed or 
endured much longer, and he'll have to pay for it, too.' 

Kichard summons the Percies of Northumberland, whose loyalty 
has become suspect, to join his Irish expedition. They refuse and receive 
a sentence of banishment which is not enforced. 

King Richard and his counsellors had so many things to do 
in a short time that they had no opportunity of dealing with 
the Earl of Northumberland nor of telling him: 'You will 
clear out of England or we will clear you out by force.' They 
had to drop the matter and, soon after, to change all their 

While the King and his following were at Bristol, the popu- 
lation of England in general began to stir and engage in inter- 
nal strife. All the courts of justice were closed, to the dismay 
of honest men who asked only for tranquillity and fair deal- 
ing, with the payment of their lawful debts. They began to be 
attacked by a class of people who roamed the country in 
troops and gangs. Merchants dared not ride about upon their 
business for fear of being robbed, and they did not know to 
whom to turn for protection or justice. Such things were most 
disagreeable to the English people and contrary to their habits 
and customs, for in England every man, whether merchant or 
farmer, had grown used to living and trading pacifically, and 
the farmers to living quietly and well off their land, according 
to the produce of the season, but now just the opposite was 

First, when traders travelled from one town to another, any 
money that they carried in their purses was snatched from 
them and they were left with nothing. The farmers were 
robbed of their corn, oxen, cows, pigs and sheep and were 
afraid to say anything about it. Such misdeeds began to multi- 
ply rapidly, until complaints and lamentations were heard all 
over England and honest people were saying: 'Things have 


BOOK FOUR (1389-1400) 

changed very much for the worse since the death of good 
King Edward of happy memory. In his time justice reigned 
and was properly enforced. No man, however bold, dared to 
take a sheep or a hen without paying for it. Now our things 
are taken from us by force and we dare not complain. If this 
state of affairs goes on for long, England will be ruined, for no 
one tries to stop it and the King is useless. His only concern is 
to enjoy himself in idle shows and he seems not to care how 
things are going, so long as he gets his own way. Something 
must be done about it, or our enemies will begin to crow over 
us. Now this King Richard has sent his brother, the Earl of 
Huntingdon, to Calais. How easy it would be for him to make 
some crooked secret pact with the French and give back 
Calais to them. If that did happen, we English would feel 
utterly beaten and humiliated ; and rightly, for we should have 
lost the key to the kingdom of France.' 

These kinds of complaints and misgivings were echoed in 
many parts of the country and the prelates and men of sub- 
stance went to live in London for greater security. The fami- 
lies of the men whom Richard had killed or banished were 
glad at the troubles which had arisen and only hoped that they 
would increase. The citi2ens of London, who are rich and 
powerful, and draw their living chiefly from merchandise sent 
over land and sea, which enables them to live in great pros- 
perity, are the real leaders of the kingdom, without whom the 
rest of the country would neither dare nor be able to do any- 
thing; these saw that the situation might quickly become dis- 
astrous unless something was done to remedy it. 


The I^ondomrs hold a secret meetings ''with certain prelates and 
knight s\ at which it is decided to offer the crown to the EarlofDerbj. 
The jnission of taking the offer to Derby in Paris is confided to the 
Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Arundel. 

The Archbishop, accompanied by only six others, boarded 
a ship in the port of London and crossed over safely to Sluys 
in Flanders. From there he went to Ardenburg, Ghent, 



Oudenarde, Ath in Brabant, then Conde on the Scheldt, and 
then Valenciennes, where he put up at the hostelry of the 
Swan in the Market Place. He stayed there for three days, 
resting from his journey. He was not travelling as Archbishop 
of Canterbury, but as a pilgrim monk, and he revealed his 
identity and his plans to no one. From Valenciennes he took 
with him a guide familiar with the road to Paris, giving out 
that he was on a pilgrimage to Saint-Maur-des-Fosses. He 
travelled on until he came to where the Earl of Derby was 
then living. I think it was in the mansion known as Win- 
chester,! lyitig outside Paris towards Saint-Denis. 

When the Earl of Derby saw the Archbishop of Canterbury 
coming towards him, his heart leapt within him and his spirits 
rose. All those around him experienced the same exultation, 
imagining at once that he had brought some message from 
England. The Archbishop did not at first disclose his purpose, 
but prudently kept his mission secret. He said, for public 
hearing, that he was going on a pilgrimage to Saint-Maur-des- 
Fosses, and this convinced and satisfied the Earl's household. 
When the Archbishop saw that the moment had come to 
speak of his real purpose, he took the Earl of Derby aside and 
went alone with him into a private room. There he described 
to him the troubled state of England, the violence and de- 
struction which were taking place in many parts of the coun- 
try, recalled that justice was in abeyance, through the King's 
fault, and told him that the Londoners, with certain prominent 
men, prelates and others, wanted to put a stop to it, and had 
unanimously agreed - this was the reason for his visit - that 
the Earl ought to return to England, for he was wasting his 

I . Froissart : Hotel de Vincestre (Winchester), the modern Bicetre ; but 
this is on the opposite side of Paris to Saint-Denis. Difficult though it is to 
credit, most of this detail appears to be sheer invention, as is much of the 
rest, Thomas Arundel had been deprived of the see of Canterbury and 
banished from England at the time of his brother's execution in 1397. He 
joined Bolingbroke in Paris soon after the latter's banishment in the 
following year. However, the possibility that he returned secretly to 
England to confer with Bolingbroke's supporters and then carried their 
offer of the crown back to Bolingbroke in Paris cannot be entirely ruled 
out and would partly justify Froissart's account. 


BOOK FOUR (1389-1400) 

time in France. He would be made King, since Richard of Bor- 
deaux had done or permitted so many infamous things that 
the whole population was complaining bitterly and was ready 
to rise against him. 

When Lord Derby had heard all the Archbishop had to say, 
he did not reply at once but went over to a window which 
looked on to the gardens and reflected for a while. Many 
thoughts passed through his mind, and at last he turned and 
said to the Archbishop : ' Sir, you have given me a great deal 
to think about. I am reluctant to take this opportunity and 
reluctant to let it slip. I quite understand that I could not re- 
turn to England for a long time to come, except by the means 
you suggest to me, yet I hesitate to agree because the King of 
France and the French have shown me every courtesy and say 
they will go on treating me with all honour for as long as I 
wish to stay. If in fact, taking you and my good friends in 
London at their word, I have to bind myself to everything 
they desire, that means that King Richard would be captured 
and destroyed, and I should have the blame for it. That is not 
a thing I would undertake willingly, if there is any other form 
or manner in which it could be done.' 

'Sir,' replied the Archbishop, *I have been sent to you for 
the good of us all. Call together your council and tell them 
what I have told you. I will address them, too. I do not be- 
lieve that they will advise you against it.' 

* I agree,' said the Earl. * Such things require deliberation in 

Derby is enthusiastically advised to accept the offer. Faced with the 
choice of reaching England through Hainault or through Brittanj, he 
chooses the second and leaves Paris on the pretext of a visit to the Duke 
of Brittany^ a relation by marriage. The Duke encourages him in his 
venture and offers to support him with ships and men. 

After these arrangements had been agreed upon, in all good 
faith and amity, the Earl spent some time with the Duke in 
pleasure and relaxation, making it appear that he intended to 
stay on. But meanwhile preparations were going forward at a 
seaport which I think was Vannes, and to which the Duke and 



the Earl presently came. When it was time and the wind was 
favourable, the Earl went on board ship with all his followers 
and they were accompanied by three vessels manned with 
men-at-arms and crossbowmen who were to escort them as 
far as England. 

Their fleet raised anchor and put to sea. The farther they 
sailed towards England, the better wind they had. They made 
such good progress that after two days and nights they 
reached Plymouth ^ where they disembarked and entered the 
town a few at a time. The Bailiff of Plymouth, whose duty was 
to guard the town and port for the King, was disquieted to 
see so many men-at-arms and archers, but the Archbishop of 
Canterbury reassured him, saying that they meant no harm to 
England, but had been sent by the Duke of Brittany to serve 
the King and the country. This satisfied the Bailiff and mean- 
while the Earl of Derby hid his identity and stayed quietly in 
his room, so that no one in the town was able to see and re- 
cognize him. As soon as they were lodged, the Archbishop 
had letters written and sent them off to London by one of his 
men. The man rode so fast, taking fresh horses in each town, 
that by dawn the next day he reached London and clattered 
into it. He went straight over London Bridge, for the gates 
were open, and made for the house of the Lord Mayor, who 
was still in bed. When the Mayor heard that he came from the 
Archbishop of Canterbury, he got up, had the man brought 
into his room, and read the letters. He was overjoyed by the 
news they contained and, having dressed rapidly, he sent his 
servants round from house to house to inform those who had 
played the principal part in inviting the Earl to return - 
although everyone, in London and elsewhere, was delighted 
by the news. More than two hundred of the most prominent 
citizens quickly assembled and after discussing the matter 
briefly, for there was no need for long deliberation, they said : 

I . Pleimonde, hardly more than a name for Froissart. In another passage 
he appears to confuse its whereabouts, placing it near the Isle of Wight. 
Bolingbroke certainly did skirt the Channel coast, putting in briefly at 
Pevensey, before sailing on to land definitively at Ravenspur in Yorkshire. 
It was from there that he rode to London. 


BOOK FOUR (1389-1400) 

'Quick now, let us get ready to go and greet our lord of 
Derby, since we invited him to come.' 

The meeting between the leading citizens and Bolingbroke, who has 
travelled overland after the messenger, takes place near Guildford, 
says Froissart. The next daj most of the population of l^ndon come 
out to welcome him and escort him to the citj. 

To make a long story short, it was eventually decided that 
they would march with all speed towards the King, whom the 
Londoners and others now called plain Richard of Bordeaux, 
with no courtesy titles. Indeed, the foul-mouthed ale-swilling 
populace of London so detested him that they could hardly 
mention his name without adding, ' Damn and blast the dirty 
bugger.' The citizens had already covenanted with the Earl of 
Derby that he should be their lord and king and should act in 
all matters on their advice. Further to this agreement, the 
Earl stipulated that he and his heirs should assume responsi- 
bility for the government of the kingdom for all future time. 
This the Londoners swore to him, put it in writing and sealed 
it. They promised further to have the same undertaking sworn 
to and sealed by the population of the rest of England in so 
solemn and binding a way that it would never be in question; 
and they promised to remain always loyal to him and to help 
him to attain his ends. 

Once these conditions had been agreed to by both parties - 
and it was done quickly, for they did not want to lose time - 
it was arranged that twelve hundred London men, all armed 
and mounted, should set out for Bristol with the Earl of 
Derby and remain with him until they had captured Richard 
of Bordeaux and brought him to London. This achieved, it 
would be decided what to do with him, for he would be 
brought to trial before the nobles, prelates and commons of 
England and judged according to his acts. It was also agreed, 
to avoid possible scandal, that the armed men whom the 
Duke of Brittany had lent to the Earl as his escort should be 
sent home, since they would have enough men of their own 
for the purpose. 



News reached King Richard's army of the approach of Lord 
Derby and the Londoners. Many knights, squires and archers 
heard of it before the King, but those who knew would never 
have dared to tell him. As the news spread from mouth to 
mouth, many, including some nearest to the King, were in a 
state of great alarm. They saw at once that events were shap- 
ing in a way that was dangerous for themselves and the King, 
for they had many enemies in England and these, who had 
pretended to smile upon them before, would become open 
now that the Earl was on this side of the sea. Many knights, 
squires and archers, who had served the King for the season, 
hid their intentions and slipped quietly away. Some returned 
to their homes. Others, by the shortest road they could, made 
for the Earl of Derby and joined him. 

As soon as Humphrey of Gloucester and Richard^ of 
Arundel learnt that their cousin of Derby and the Londoners 
were coming, they called their men together, left King Rich- 
ard, and did not stop riding until they reached the Earl's 
force, which had passed Oxford and come to a town called 
Cicister. The Earl was delighted to see his cousins and they 
to see him. He asked for news of the King, his forces, his 
whereabouts, and how they had got away. They answered: 
' We did not see him before we left. As soon as we heard you 
were coming we got on our horses and rode towards you. We 
wish to serve you and help to avenge our fathers whom Rich- 
ard of Bordeaux put to death.' 'You are welcome,' the Earl 
replied. ' You will help me and I will help you. The task is to 
take our cousin Richard back to London.' 

When the facts could no longer be hidden, Richard's coun- 
sellors came to him privately and said : ' Sire, you must think 
what to do. A decision has to be made quickly, for the men of 
London have risen against you in force and are evidently 

I . The name of the Arundel heir was Thomas, like that of his uncle the 
Archbishop. He had already joined Bolingbroke in France, and returned 
to England with him. His younger brother was called Richard. 


BOOK FOUR (1389-1400) 

coming to seek you out, accompanied by your cousin the Earl 
of Derby, whom they have made their leader. And since he 
has crossed the sea on their invitation, there must be a close 
understanding between them.' 

On hearing this, the King was shaken to the core and could 
find nothing to say. He realized at once that things would go 
from bad to worse if he could not take some forceful action. 
When at last he spoke, it was to say to the knights who had 
brought him the news : ' Quickly then, alert our men, archers 
and men-at-arms, and issue a general order for everyone to be 
ready to march, for I will not flee before my subjects.' 'Before 
God, sir,' the knights replied, 'things look very black, your 
men are deserting and slipping away. You have lost quite half 
of them already and those who are left are utterly dispirited.' 
'What do you think I should do, then?' asked the King. 'We 
will tell you, sire. You cannot hope to face your enemies in the 
field, but must retire into some castle where you can hold out 
until your brother. Sir John Holland, comes to your support. 
He is brave and soldierly enough to do so and he will already 
have heard the news. Once he is in England ^ he will so man- 
age things, by force of arms or negotiation, that your pros- 
pects will be quite different from now. When he is known to 
be in the field, many who have deserted you will rally to him.' 
The King accepted this advice unreservedly. 

At that time the Earl of SaUsbury was not with the King, 
but in another place some way off. On receiving news of the 
situation, he at once saw how dangerous it was for himself 
and the King and those who had- so far advised him. So he 
did nothing until he should hear more. The King's uncle, the 
Duke of York, had not been with the King's army, but his son 
the Earl of Rutland was with it for two reasons; first because 
the King was extremely fond of him, and secondly because he 
was Constable of England, which made it his duty to take part 
in the expedition. 

More news was brought to the King soon after he had 
finished supper. He was told: 'Sire, you must decide now 
what you intend to do. Your army is nothing compared to 
I, He had succeeded the Earl Marshal as Governor of Calais. 



what is approaching. A battle is out of the question, you could 
not hope to fight one now. You must get out of this corner by 
skill and good judgement, appease your enemies if possible, as 
you did once before, and then punish them in your own time. 
There is a castle twelve miles from here called Flint ^ which is 
quite strong. We advise you to make for it and shut yourself 
inside there until you have further news of the Earl of Hunt- 
ingdon and your other friends. We will send to Ireland and 
elsewhere for help. And if your father-in-law, the King of 
France, hears that you are in difficulties, he will give you sup- 

Kichard acts on this advice, leaving Rutland at 'Bristol with the 
bulk of his forces. 

The Earl of Derby and the Londoners had their spies com- 
ing and going who reported all the King's movements to 
them, and there were also the knights and squires who came 
over to the Earl of their own accord. The Earl thus learnt that 
the King had withdrawn to Flint Castle and had hardly any 
men with him, apart from the members of his household ; also 
that he seemed to have no intention of fighting, but only 
wanted to escape from his predicament, if possible by nego- 
tiation. It was immediately decided to follow him to Flint and, 
once there, to contrive to take him by force or otherwise. 
When the Earl of Derby's force had come within about five 
miles of the castle, they found themselves in a large village. 
Here the Earl halted, took a meal and a drink, and decided 
solely on his own initiative to ride ahead with tw^o hundred 
men, leaving all the rest behind. He hoped to induce the King 
to let him into the castle by peaceful means and, once there, 
to bring him out by persuasion. He would guarantee him pro- 
tection against all dangers, except that of going to London, 
and even there he would promise to preserve him against 
bodily harm and w^ould mediate between him and the Lon- 
doners who were so enraged against him. 

I . Froissart : Flitch, Flinth. The ' twelve miles ' is either a scribal mistake 
or an example of geographical confusion. Richard in fact went first to 
Conway Castle, and was either persuaded or tricked into going to Flint by 
Archbishop Arundel and Northumberland. 


BOOK FOUR (1389-I400) 

When the Earl told those around him of his plan, they ap- 
proved of it, but said : ' Sir, make quite sure that there is no 
double-dealing in this matter. Richard of Bordeaux must be 
taken, dead or alive, with all the traitors who have influenced 
him, and brought to London and put in the Tower. Nothing 
else will satisfy the Londoners.' 'Of course,' the Earl replied. 
'Everything that has been agreed upon will be done. But if 
I can persuade him to come out of the castle peaceably I will 
do so. If I cannot and he refuses to listen to me, I shall let 
you know at once. You will come and we will start the siege. 
We will go to work by force, since the place is not impreg- 
nable, until we have him dead or alive.' 

This last statement was enough for the Londoners, and the 
Earl of Derby left the main body and rode forward with two 
hundred men only. They were soon outside the castle, in one 
of the rooms of which the King was sitting dazed and trem- 
bling among his men. The Earl and his troop dismounted be- 
fore the castle gate, which was naturally shut and barred, and 
he went and banged loudly on it. Those inside asked who it 
was. The Earl of Derby answered them; 'I am Henry of Lan- 
caster. I have come to take back my inheritance of the Duchy 
of Lancaster from the King. Go and tell him so from me.' 
'My lord,' they said, 'we will do so willingly.' They went up 
to the room in the keep where the King was with the men who 
had so long been his advisers, and told him: 'Sire, it is your 
cousin the Earl of Derby who has come to reclaim his inheri- 
tance of Lancaster from you.' The King looked at his knights 
and asked them what he should do. ' Sire,' they said, ' there is 
nothing unreasonable in this demand. You can allow him to 
come before you, with a dozen followers only, and hear 
what he has to say. He is your cousin and a great man in this 
country. If he chooses, he can well make peace for you, for 
he is much loved in England, particularly among the Lon- 
doners who brought him back across the sea and who are 
supporting him against you so strongly at this moment. You 
must hide your real intentions until this trouble has blown 
over and your brother the Earl of Huntingdon is able to join 
you. It is a great pity that he is at Calais, for those who revolt 



against you in England would keep quiet and not dare to 
offend you if they knew he was with you. Also, he is married 
to the Earl of Derby's sister and through his mediation we 
hope and believe that you would reach a peaceful understand- 
ing with everyone.' 

The King agreed to this suggestion, saying: *Have the gate 
opened and let him come in, with eleven others only.' Two 
knights went down to the courtyard and out through the 
wicket-gate, where they bowed to the Earl of Derby and the 
knights accompanying him. They greeted them with great 
courtesy, knowing that they were on the weaker side and that 
they had done very wrong and were hated by the Londoners. 
They wished to put things right if they could by flowery 
politeness, so they said: 'What is your pleasure, my lord? The 
King is at mass, and he has sent us to inquire on his behalf.' 
'This,' said the Earl. 'You know that I have come to claim 
back the Duchy of Lancaster. I want to talk to the King about 
that and certain other things.' 'My lord,' they replied, 'you 
are most welcome. The King will be glad to receive you and 
listen to you. He said that you should come in with just 
eleven companions.' 'I am willing,' said the Earl, and entered 
the castle with his eleven men. The wicket was immediately 
shut, leaving all the others outside. 

Now consider the great risk that the Earl was running, for 
he could have been killed in there with all his companions as 
easily as if they had been birds in a cage. But he thought noth- 
ing of the danger and went straight forward until he came 
before the King. 

When the King saw him, he changed colour, like a man who 
felt he had done him a great wrong. Making no attempt to 
show him honour or respect, Lord Derby asked bluntly: 
'Have you breakfasted yet?' 'No,' answered the King. 'It is 
still quite early. Why do you ask ? ' ' It is time you did,' said the 
Earl. 'You have a long journey before you.' 'What journey?' 
asked the King. 'You have to go to London. I would advise 
you to eat something now. You will have a more comfortable 
ride.' Depressed and frightened by these words, the King re- 
plied: 'I am not hungry yet. I don't feel I could eat.' But his 


BOOK FOUR (1389-1400) 

knights, seeing that things were going badly and wishing to 
humour the Earl, said: ' Sire, do as my lord of Lancaster asks. 
He only means it for your good.' 'I will, then,' said the King. 
'Have the tables laid.' The tables were prepared quickly. The 
King washed and sat down. He was served. The Earl was 
asked if he would eat as well. He said no, he had already 

While the King was sitting there trying to eat - but he could 
swallow almost nothing, his heart was so heavy - the whole 
country round Flint Castle became covered with men-at-arms 
and archers. Those inside the castle could see them only too 
well from the windows. The King caught sight of them 
when he rose from table after a brief and melancholy meal. 
He asked his cousin who these people were and received the 
answer that they were mostly men of London. 'And what do 
they want ? ' asked the King. ' They want you,' said the Earl of 
Derby, 'to take you to London and put you in the Tower. 
There is no other way for you.' 'No,' said the King, who was 
terrified to hear this, knowing how the Londoners hated him. 
He went on: 'You, my cousih, cannot you do something to 
prevent it? I will never wilUngly put myself in their hands. I 
know that they have hated me for a long time, I who am their 
sovereign.' The Earl replied: 'I can see no way of preventing 
it, unless yoii surrender to me. If they know that you are my 
prisoner they will not harm you. But you must get ready, with 
all your people, to go to London and be imprisoned in the 

Seeing himself in this desperate situation and utterly cowed 
by the fear that the Londoners would kill him, the King sur- 
rendered to his cousin of Derby, promising to do whatever he 
asked. His knights and officers all followed his example, 
in order to avoid greater perils. The Earl, in the presence 
of the men he had brought with him, accepted them as his 
prisoners and ordered them to be taken to the courtyard. 
Horses were to be saddled and the gates of the castle thrown 
open. When this was done, large numbers of men-at-arms and 
archers came crowding in, upon which Lord Derby, whom I 
will now call Duke of Lancaster, issued strict orders that no 



one was to presume to take anything in the castle or lay hands 
on man or servant, on pain of hanging and drawing. He led 
his cousin King Richard down from the keep to the court- 
yard, talking to him all the time. He let him keep his whole 
household just as it was, without removing or changing any 
of his attendants. While the horses were being got ready, the 
King and the Duke continued to chat together, closely watched 
by some of the Londoners who were present. A thing then 
happened which was told to me and which I will relate. 

King Richard had a greyhound called Math, a truly magni- 
ficent dog, which would follow no one except the King. 
Whenever he was about to go riding, the greyhound was 
loosed and came bounding up to the King and put his paws on 
his shoulders. Now, as the King and the Duke were standing 
talking in the middle of the courtyard, with their horses ready 
for mounting, this greyhound Math left the King and went 
to the Duke of Lancaster, showing him all the marks of 
affection which he used to show to the King. He placed his 
forepaws on his shoulders and began to lick his face. The 
Duke of Lancaster, who had never seen the dog before, asked 
the King: 'What does this greyhound want?' 'Cousin,' re- 
plied the King, ' it is an excellent omen for you and a bad one 
for me.' 'What do you mean?' asked the Duke. 'I mean,' said 
the King, ' that the dog is hailing and honouring you today as 
the King of England which you will be, while I shall be de- 
posed. The dog knows it by instinct. So keep him with you, 
for he will stay with you and leave me.' The Duke of Lan- 
caster understood perfectly and stroked the greyhound, which 
henceforth ignored Richard of Bordeaux and followed him. 
These things were observed or known by over thirt)^ thou- 
sand people. 

The King is escorted under strong guard to the outskirts of L^ondon. 
According to Froissart^ they avoid the large towns ^ pass near Oxford^ 
and halt at Windsor^ then at Chertsej. 

King Richard of Bordeaux had pleaded movingly with his 
cousin of Lancaster not to take him through London, which 
was the reason they took that road. Meanwhile, as soon as the 
Londoners had got the better of Richard, they sent some 

45 3 

BOOK FOUR (1589-1400) 

prominent citizens to the young Queen Isabella, who was then 
at Leeds Castle with her court. They went to the Lady de 
Courcy, who was the second in importance after the Queen, 
and said: 'Lady, get ready and have all your things packed. 
You must clear out of here. And make quite sure not to show 
the Queen any displeasure when you leave. Say that your hus- 
band and your daughter have sent for you. If we see you do- 
ing anything else, your life will answer for it. You must ask 
no questions, that's all you need to know. You will be taken 
to Dover and given a boat to take you across to Boulogne.' 

Very frightened by these threats and knowing how hard and 
relentless the English were, the Lady de Courcy answered: 
*I swear I will do everything you say.' She was soon ready. 
She was provided with horses and hackneys for herself and 
her attendants. All of them went; not a single Frenchman or 
Frenchwoman stayed behind. They set out on the road and 
were escorted to Dover, where they were well and generously 
paid, each according to his station. At the first tide they 
boarded a ship and sailed across to Boulogne. 

The young Queen's household was so broken up that 
neither man, woman nor child was left to her. They were all 
thrown out, those of French nationality and many of English 
nationality who favoured King Richard. A new court was 
formed with other ladies and maids-of-honour, household 
officers and servants, and all of them were warned in advance 
never to speak of King Richard as they valued their lives, not 
even among themselves. 

The Duke of Lancaster and his company left Chertsey for 
Sheen, and from there they took King Richard to the Tower 
of London by night, with all those of his knights and follow- 
ers whom they wished to imprison in it. In the morning, 
when the people of London learnt that the King was in the 
Tower, they were far from sorry, but there was a great mur- 
mur of discontent that he had been taken there in secrecy. 
They were very angry that he had not been led right through 
the city - not so that they could applaud and honour him, but 
to revile him and show their hatred. Consider for a moment 
what it is like when the people are roused to revolt and get the 



Upper hand of their master, and especially in England. Then 
there is no stopping it, for they are the most dangerous com- 
mon people in the world, the most violent and presumptuous. 
And of all the commons in England the Londoners are the 
ringleaders. They are indeed very powerful in men and re- 
sources. Within the boundaries of London they can raise 
twenty-four thousand men armed from head to foot and at 
least thirty thousand archers. That is great strength, for they 
are tough, sturdy, bold and confident. And the more blood 
they see flowing, the bolder and fiercer they grow. 

The 'Earl of Kutland and Thomas Despenser, whom Richard had 
left at Bristol, hear of Richard's surrender and incarceration and dis- 
band their army. They go to a castle of Despenser's in the Welsh 
Marches, to await developments. The Duke of York keeps to his 
castle and continues to remain passive. 

Tancaster {Boli)tgbroke) recalls Warwick from exile and restores 
all his rights. He invites the Earl of 'Northumberland and his son 
Henrj Percy to join him. tie lays hands on '' the four ^Londoners' who 
had strangled his uncle Gloucester at Calais and puts them in prison. 
He then turns his attention again to Richard. 

The Duke of Lancaster and his counsellors conferred with 
the Londoners as to what should be done about Richard of 
Bordeaux, who was confined in the big tower in which King 
John of France had once been housed, in the days when 
King Edward was at war with France. It was decided that 
King Richard should be allowed all his ease and comforts, if 
he was prepared to enjoy them reasonably, because the news of 
his imprisonment would soon be known throughout Christen- 
dom, and he had reigned for twenty-two years, though now 
they wished to depose him. As a first step, they examined his 
reign and put down all the facts in writing under separate 
heads, of which they found twenty-eight. They then went to 
the Tower, in company with the Duke of Lancaster and some 
of his knights, and entered the room where King Richard was. 
They addressed him without any marks of respect and read 
out all the charges to him in full, to which he made no reply, 
for he knew that they were true. He only said that everything 
that he had done had passed through his council. He was 

45 5 

BOOK FOUR (1389-I400) 

asked if he was ready to name his principal advisers. He named 
them, evidently hoping that this would provide a way out and 
that he would be acquitted at the expense of his chief coun- 
sellors, as had happened on the former occasion, when those 
on whose advice he had misgoverned the realm had been left 
to take the punishment. But such was not the intention of his 
captors and the Londoners. They said no more for the time 
being and left the Tower. The Duke of Lancaster returned to 
his palace, leaving the Lord Mayor and the lawyers to meet 
together in the town hall, which in London is called the Guild- 
hall and is the place where judgements are given on cases con- 
cerning the citizens of London. When the city leaders and the 
chief lawyers were seen to be going there, a great crowd as- 
sembled. It was expected that some sentence would be pro- 
nounced, as indeed it was. I will tell you what form it took. 

First of all, the facts in the King's disfavour and the charges 
which had been read to him in the Tower were now read out 
publicly and it was pointed out that the King had denied 
none of them. He had said, however, that he had consented to 
do all these things principally on the advice of four household 
knights of his inner council, and that it was on their recom- 
mendation that the Duke of Gloucester, the Earl of Arundel 
and Sir Thomas Corbet had been put to death. For a long 
time they had 'been persuading and inducing Richard of Bor- 
deaux to commit these acts, which were unpardonable and de- 
manded punishment. Thanks to them also the court of justice 
in the Palace of Westminster had been closed and all the other 
royal courts throughout England, which had encouraged 
numerous crimes and had incited bands of malefactors to roam 
the country robbing merchants and farmers in their own 
homes. By permitting such things, they had come near to 
ruining the realm of England beyond recovery. Also, it was 
impossible not to conclude that they intended to restore 
Calais and Guines to their enemy, the French. 

When this case had been expounded to the people, many 
were amazed and horrified and some began to mutter : ' These 
things call for exemplary punishment and for the deposition 
of Richard of Bordeaux. He is quite unworthy to wear a 



crown. He should be stripped of all his honours and at best 
be kept in prison on bread and water, to live there as long as 
he can.' While some were muttering this, many more cried 
aloud : ' Your Worship the Lord Mayor and you others who 
hold justice in your hands, pronounce sentence, we demand 
it! Show no mercy, the cases you have presented require 
none. And do it quickly, for their own acts condemn them.' 

The Lord Mayor and the law lords then withdrew to the 
judgement chamber and sentenced the four knights to die by 
being fastened to horses at the foot of the Tower of London, 
where Richard of Bordeaux could see them from the windows, 
and from there dragged on their buttocks, each separately, 
through the city of London until they reached Cheapside, 
where their heads should be cut off and placed on pikes on 
London Bridge and their bodies drawn by the shoulders to 
the gibbet and left there. 

As soon as this sentence had been pronounced they prepared 
to carry it out, for everything was ready. Leaving the Guild- 
hall among a vast crowd of people, the Mayor and the officers 
appointed for the task went to the Tower and immediately 
had the King's four knights brought out. Their names were : 
Sir Bernard Brocas, Lord Marclois, Master John Derby, re- 
ceiver of Lincoln, and Lord Stelle, the steward of his house- 
hold. They were taken into the courtyard and each fastened to 
two horses in full view of the men who were in the Tower in- 
cluding the King, who were all filled with terror and anguish 
because they expected the same fate, knowing the ruthlessness 
of the Londoners. Nothing more was said. The four, one 
after another, were dragged through the streets of London to 
Cheapside and there, on a fishmonger's slab, their heads were 
cut off. They were set up on four pikes at the entrance to 
London Bridge and the bodies were hauled by the shoulders 
to the city gibbet and hung up there. 

After these executions, the crowds dispersed to their homes. 
King Richard was in great anguish, feeling trapped and at the 
mercy of the Londoners. He counted his power for nothing, 
for it seemed that every man in England was against him ; and 
if there were any who did wish to help him it was beyond their 


BOOK FOUR (1389-1400) 

power to do so or to show him the slightest sympathy because 
the movement against him was so strong. His followers said 
to him : ' Sire, it now seems that our lives are worth nothing, 
since when your cousin of Lancaster came to Flint Castle the 
other day and you surrendered to him in good faith, he ac- 
cepted your surrender on condition that you and twelve of 
your knights should be his prisoners and should suffer no 
harm ; but now four of the twelve have gone to an infamous 
death. The reason is that the Londoners who are supporting 
him have bound him in such close obligations that he cannot 
withstand them. God would be showing us great mercy if He 
allowed us to die a natural death in here - not to suffer that 
ignominious death which it is horrible to think of.' 

At this. King Richard began to weep bitterly and to wring 
his hands, cursing the hour when he was born if he was to 
come to such an end as that, until his men were moved to pity 
and tried to comfort him. 'Sire,' said one of them, 'you must 
take heart. We know, and you know, that this world is vanity 
and its chances and changes are unpredictable. Fortune some- 
times runs against kings and princes as well as against humble 
people. The King of France whose daughter you have mar- 
ried cannot aid you at present, he is too far away. But if you 
could avert this danger by dissembling and so save your life 
and ours, it would be something achieved. Then in a year or 
two things might change for the better.' 'What do you think 
I should do ? ' asked the King. ' I would do anything to save 
us.' '^Sire,' said the knight, 'we know for a fact, and all the 
appearances confirm it, that the Londoners want to make 
your cousin of Lancaster king. It was with that idea that they 
sent for him and have been helping him in his cause. But as 
long as you are alive it would be very difficult to crown him 
without your absolute and formal consent. So we suggest that 
the best course for your safety and ours would be, when your 
cousin comes here to see you - or you might speed the matter 
up by asking him to come - for you to say in a pleasant and 
friendly way that you wish to resign the crown of England, 
with all your rights to it, absolutely and formally into his 
hands, so making him king. By that means, you will do much 



to placate him and win him over, and the Londoners at the 
same time. Then you will beg him to let you go on living here 
or elsewhere for the term of your natural life; and we with 
you, or each separately, or outside England as exiles. To lose 
one's life is to lose everything. Anything is better than that.' 
King Richard took these words to heart and said that he 
would act on them, because he felt that he was in great dan- 
ger. He gave his guards to understand that he would be glad 
to talk to the Duke of Lancaster. 


News was brought to the Duke that Richard of Bordeaux was 
asking for him and greatly desired to speak to him. He im- 
mediately left his palace - it was late afternoon - and went by 
barge down the Thames, accompanied by his knights. He en- 
tered the Tower by the back way and went into the keep 
where the King was. Richard greeted him with great cour- 
tesy, making himself very humble before him, like the fright- 
ened man he was, and said: 

* Cousin, I have been thinking over my position, and God 
knows it is weak enough ! I see that I should no longer think 
of wearing a crown and ruling a nation. If God would receive 
my soul, I could wish I were out of this life by a natural death 
and that the King of France should have his daughter back, 
for we have not had much pleasure together; nor, since I 
brought her to England, have I ever been on the same good 
terms with my people as before. Having considered it care- 
fully, cousin, I fully see and admit that I have behaved very 
wrongly towards you and several nobles of my own blood in 
this country, and I realize that such things have made peace 
and forgiveness impossible for me. Therefore, I gladly and 
willingly resign to you the crown of England, and I beg you 
to accept it as a freely offered gift.' 

On hearing this, the Duke of Lancaster answered : ' What 
you have said makes it necessary to assemble representatives 
of the three estates of England. Indeed, I have already written 
to summon the prelates and nobles of the country and the 


BOOK FOUR (1389-1400) 

councillors of the principal towns. Within three days there 
will be enough of them here for you to make the resignation 
which you desire in due form. By this act, you will do much 
to appease the hatred which many of the English feel for you. 
It was to end the disorders which had arisen in the country 
through the break-down of the judicial system that I was sent 
for from beyond the sea, and for that reason that the people 
wish to make me king. Strong rumours are going about the 
country that I have always had a better claim to the crown 
than you. When our grandfather. King Edward of happy 
memory, raised you to the throne, this was pointed out to him, 
but he had always had such affection for his son the Prince of 
Wales that no one could dissuade him from his purpose of 
making you king. If you had then followed the example of 
the Prince and had heeded good advice, as a true son should 
endeavour to do to the best of his ability, you would still be 
king and in possession of all your powers. But you have al- 
ways done the opposite, and now the rumour is, throughout 
England and beyond, that you are not the son of the Prince of 
Wales, but of some clerk or canon. I have heard from certain 
knights who were in the household of my uncle the Prince 
that when the Prince felt that his marriage was a failure be- 
cause your mother was a first cousin of King Edward and he 
was beginning to conceive a great dislike for her because she 
bore him no children - and also he was godparent with her^ 
on two occasions for children of Sir Thomas Holland - she, 
who had won him in marriage by guile and cunning, was 
afraid that my uncle the Prince would find some pretext for 
divorcing her. So she arranged to become pregnant and gave 
birth to you, and to another before you. The first died too 
young for any opinion to be formed of him, but about you, 
whose habits and character are so different from the warlike 
nature of the Prince, it is said in this country and elsewhere 
that your father was a clerk or canon. At the time when you 
were conceived and born at Bordeaux on the Gironde there 
were many young and handsome ones in the Prince's house- 

I , Godparents being within the forbidden degrees of affinity, it was 
supposed that their union would be unfertile. 



hold. That is what people are saying in this country, and you 
certainly seem to prove it, having always tended to favour the 
French and to desire peace with them to the prejudice and 
dishonour of England. Because my uncle of Gloucester and 
the Earl of Arundel wisely and loyally remonstrated with you 
and tried to preserve the honour and achievements of their 
fathers, you treacherously had them killed. For my part, I 
have taken you under my protection and I will defend you 
and prolong your life, through human pity, as far as I can. I 
will plead your cause before the Londoners and the heirs of 
those whom you unjustly put to death.' 

*My deepest thanks,' said the King. 'I have more trust in 
you than in all the rest of England.' 

'Rightly,' said the Duke. *If I did not go - and had not al- 
ready gone - against the will of the people, you would have 
been their prisoner and deposed amid humiliation and mock- 
ery, and put to death as your evil deeds deserve.' 

King Richard swallowed all these things which the Duke of 
Lancaster said to him and had nothing to say in reply. He 
quite saw that neither force nor argument could help him, 
but only meekness, friendliness and plain dealing. He made 
himself as humble as he could, continually begging the Duke 
of Lancaster that his life should be spared. 

After spending more than two hours in the Tower of Lon- 
don with King Richard, insisting again and again on the 
mistakes and abuses of which he was accused and which were 
undeniable, the Duke took leave of him and went back by the 
river to his palace. Next day he sent still more urgent sum- 
monses throughout the length and breadth of England. There 
came to London his uncle the Duke of York with his son the 
Earl of Rutland, the Earl of Northumberland and his brother 
Sir Thomas Percy, all of whom he made very welcome. There 
also came a large number of prelates: archbishops, bishops 
and abbots. 

Then the Duke of Lancaster, accompanied by these lords, 
prelates, dukes, earls, barons and knights and the most pro- 
minent citizens of London, went to the Tower, all of them on 
horseback, and, reaching the open space in front of it, they 


BOOK FOUR (1389-1400) 

dismounted and went inside. King Richard was brought down 
and came into the hall vested and arrayed as a king, wear- 
ing an open mantle and with the sceptre in his hand and the 
crown with which he had been crowned upon his head. No 
one stood at his side or supported him when he began to 
speak, uttering these words in the hearing of all : 

'I have been Sovereign of England, Duke of Aquitaine 
and Lord of Ireland for some twenty-two years, and this 
sovereignty, lordship, sceptre, crown and heritage I resign 
fully and unreservedly to my cousin Henry of Lancaster, ask- 
ing him in the presence of you all to take this sceptre in token 
of possession.' 

He held out the sceptre to the Duke of Lancaster, who took 
it and handed it to the Archbishop of Canterbury. Next King 
Richard lifted the golden crown from his head, placed it in 
front of him and said : * Henry, fair cousin and Duke of Lan- 
caster, I give and deliver to you this crown with which I was 
crowned King of England, and with it all the rights belong- 
ing to it.' 

The Duke of Lancaster took it, and again the Archbishop 
was at hand to receive it from him. These two things done 
and the King's resignation thereby given and accepted, the 
Duke of Lancaster called for a public notary and required a 
record to be made in writing, with the signatures of the pre- 
lates and lords who were present. Soon after Richard re- 
turned to his room, while the Duke of Lancaster and all the 
lords who had attended mounted their horses. The two royal 
jewels mentioned above were put in strong-boxes and taken 
to the treasury of Westminster Abbey. The lords all went back 
to their houses to await the day when the parliament was to be 
held in the Palace of Westminster. 


In the year of Our Lord 1599, °^ ^^^ ^^^^ ^^Y °^ September, a 
Tuesday, Henry, Duke of Lancaster, held a parliament in the 
Palace of Westminster outside London. In this parliament 
were assembled the prelates and clergy of most of England, 



the dukes, earls and nobles of the realm, and also the com- 
mons of each town, in numbers proportionate to the size of 
the towns. Before that assembly Duke Henry made his claim 
to the throne of England, putting forward three titles to the 
office of king: first, by right of conquest; secondly, because 
he said he was the rightful heir; thirdly, because King Rich- 
ard of Bordeaux had resigned the crown to him of his entire 
free will in the presence of prelates, dukes and earls in the hall 
of the Great Tower of London. 

Having put forward these three titles to the crown, Henry 
Duke of Lancaster asked the people of England there as- 
sembled to say what their will was. They answered with one 
voice that their will was that he should be their king and that 
they would have none other. He put the same question to 
them twice again, asking if this was truly their will, and all 
answered with one voice, ' Yes ! ' Thereupon the Duke took 
his seat on the throne, which was covered with cloth of gold 
with a canopy over it. It was raised up high in the middle of 
the hall, so that all could see him. When he was seated upon 
it all the people held their hands up towards him, promising 
him allegiance and showing their great joy. The parliament 
was then concluded and a day assigned for the coronation, 
which was to take place on St Edward's day, Monday, the 
thirteenth of October. 

• On the Saturday before his coronation, the Duke of Lan- 
caster left Westminster and went to the Tower of London 
with a large number of followers. That night all the squires 
who were to be knighted the next day kept vigil. There were 
forty-six of them and each had his room and his bath in which 
he bathed that night. The next morning the Duke of Lan- 
caster made them knights while mass was being sung and gave 
them long green tunics with narrow sleeves . trimmed with 
miniver and large matching hats also trimmed with miniver 
like those of prelates. Over their left shoulders they wore a 
double cord of white silk with white hanging tassels. After 
dinner that Sunday the Duke left the Tower again for West- 
minster, riding bare-headed and wearing the King of France's 
emblem round his neck. With him were his son the prince, 


BOOK FOUR (13&9-1400) 

six dukes, six earls, eighteen barons and a total of eight to 
nine hundred knights. The King had put on a short doublet 
of cloth-of-gold in the German style. He was mounted on a 
white charger and wore the blue garter on his left leg. He rode 
right through the city of London and was escorted to West- 
minster by a great number of nobles with their men wearing 
their various liveries and badges, and all the burgesses, Lom- 
bards and merchants of London, and all the grand masters of 
the guilds, each guild decked out with its particular emblems. 
Six thousand horses were in the procession. The streets 
through which the Duke passed were covered and decorated 
with various kinds of hangings and on that day and the next 
white and red wine flowed from nine fountains in Cheapside, 
each with several jets. 

That night the Duke of Lancaster w^as bathed. As soon as 
he rose the next morning, he made confession ^ and heard 
three masses, as his custom was. Then all the prelates there 
assembled, with numerous other clergy, came in procession 
from Westminster Abbey to the Palace, to take the King back 
with them. They returned to the Abbey with the King follow- 
ing, and all the nobles with him. The dukes, earls and barons 
had long scarlet robes and long mantles trimmed with mini- 
ver, and large hats lined with the same fur. The dukes and 
earls had three bars of miniver about a foot long on their left 
shoulders, and the barons only two. All the others, knights 
and squires, had robes of scarlet livery-cloth. 

All the way from the Palace to the Abbey a canopy of in- 
digo-coloured silk supported on four silver rods and with four 
jingling golden bells was carried over the Duke's head by four 
citizens of Dover, as was their right. On one side of him was 
borne the Sword of the Church and on the other the Sword of 
Justice. The first was carried by his eldest son the Prince of 
Wales and the second by Henry Percy, Earl of Northumber- 
land and Constable of England, for the Earl of Rutland had 
been deprived of that office.' The Earl of Westmorland, Mar- 
shal of England, carried the sceptre. At about nine o'clock the 
whole procession entered the Abbey, in the middle of which 

I. One manuscript bears the addition: 'for he had great need of it'. 



was a throne upholstered in cloth-of-gold standing on a high 
platform covered with crimson cloth. On this the Duke 
mounted and took his seat. He was now in royal state, except 
that he was wearing neither the cap nor the crown. The Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury then mounted the platform and at each 
of the four corners of it in turn explained to the people how 
God had sent them a man to be their lord and king. He then 
asked if they were all willing that he should be anointed and 
crowned king. They unanimously answered yes, stretching 
out their hands to pledge him their loyalty and obedience. 

When this had been done, the Duke came down from the 
throne and went to the altar to be consecrated. Two arch- 
bishops and ten bishops were there to perform the ceremony. 
Before the altar his royal robes were taken off, leaving him 
naked to the waist, and he was anointed in six [sic] places, on 
his head, his chest, on both shoulders, on his back between 
the shoulders, and on his hands. Then a cap was put on his 
head and meanwhile the clergy chanted the litany and the 
office which is used for consecrating a font. The King was 
then dressed in ecclesiastical robes like a deacon ; crimson vel- 
vet shoes like those of a prelate were put on his feet and then 
spurs with points and no rowels. The Sword of Justice was 
drawn from its sheath, blessed and handed to the King, who 
re-sheathed it. It was then girded on him by the Archbishop 
of Canterbury. Next the crown of St Edward, which has three 
arches, was brought and blessed and placed on the King's 
head by the Archbishop. After mass had been sung, the King 
left the Abbey in this regalia and found outside the Constable 
of England with his Ueutenant and the Marshal of England, 
who together cleared the way for the return to the Palace. 

In the centre of the Palace was a fountain from which white 
and red wine flowed through numerous jets. The King went 
through the hall to his private room, then came back to the 
hall for the dinner. The first table was the King's ; the second 
was for the four dukes of England ; the third, for the people of 
London; the fourth, for the newly made knights; the fifth, 
for those knights and squires of honour who wanted seats. 
On one side of the King sat the Prince of Wales holding the 


BOOK FOUR (1389-1400) 

Sword of Justice, on the other the Constable of England, 
holding the Sword of the Church, and opposite him the Mar- 
shal holding the sceptre. The only others at the King's table 
were two archbishops and seventeen bishops. Halfway through 
the dinner there came in a knight of the name of Dymoke,' 
in full armour and riding a horse, with both of them, horse 
and rider, covered in mail with crimson trappings. The knight 
was ready armed to take up a challenge and another knight 
went before him carrying his lance. He wore a naked sword 
at one side and a dagger at the other, and he handed the King 
a parchment saying that if any knight, squire or gentleman 
cared to say or maintain that King Henry was not the rightful 
king, he was ready to fight him there and then in the King's 
presence, or whenever it pleased the King to appoint a day. 
The King had this challenge cried by a herald-at-arms at six 
different places in the hall, but no one came forward. After 
the King had dined, he took wine and spices in the hall, then 
retired to his private room. Everyone else left and went back 
to his own house. 


Henry IV is not jet secure on the throne. The French, disturbed and 
anxious about the position of the young ex-queen, grow increasingly 
hostile. At home, some of 'Kichard^ s supporters plot to murder Henrj 
at a tournament at Oxford and then to raise the country bj using a 
clerk called Magdalen to impersonate Kichard. Forewarned, Henry 
refuses to attend the tournament. 

When the Earls of Salisbury, Huntingdon and Kent and 
Thomas Despenser saw that their plan had miscarried and that 
they could not kill the King in the way they had supposed, 
they conferred together and said: *We must go after him at 
Windsor and raise the country on the way. We will dress 
Magdalen as a king and have him ride with us, giving out that 
he is King Richard who has been set free. Everyone who sees 
him or hears about him will believe it, and so we shall get the 
better of our enemies.' 

I. The office of King's Champion was hereditary in this family. 



They did as they had decided, banding themselves together 
and collecting a force of at least five hundred men between 
them. Magdalen was dressed in royal state and taken with them. 
They came near Windsor where King Henry held his court, 
but God saved him in time, for he was warned that they were 
approaching in sufficient strength to storm Windsor Castle. 
He was told : * Sire, leave this place at once, and make for Lon- 
don by way of Sheen and Chertsey, for they are coming 
straight here.' He and his followers quickly saddled their 
horses and made off" down the road I have mentioned. They 
had hardly gone when the armed force coming to kill him 
arrived at Windsor. They entered the castle unopposed and 
went searching for him from room to room and even in the 
houses of the canons, but found nothing. When they realized 
that he had escaped them, they left Windsor in fury and quar- 
tered for the night at Colnbrook. They made many people 
join them, by force or persuasion, saying that King Richard 
was with them. Some believed this, but others did not. 

King Henry, who suspected treachery, spurred his horse on 
and reached the Tower of London by a roundabout way. He 
went in angrily and said to Richard of Bordeaux: *I saved 
your life with great difficulty and now you are trying to have 
me murdered by your brother, who is my brother-in-law, the 
Earl of Salisbury, your nephew the Earl of Kent and Thomas 
Despenser. It is a pity for you that you planned this.' 

Richard of Bordeaux insisted that he was innocent and 
swore, as God was his witness, that he knew nothing whatso- 
ever about it. He said that he was perfectly content with his 
present state and had no thoughts of anything greater. There 
things were left for the time being. 

The conspirators skirt I^ondon, but fail to attract support there. 
Thej make for the west and at Cirencester they separate. Salisbury 
and Thomas Despenser go on towards the Severn in the hope of raising 
the Welsh Marches. Huntingdon and Kent, remaining in Cirencester, 
are attacked and killed by the loyal Bailiff of the town. 

There and then the men of Cirencester, who were thor- 
oughly roused against them, cut off their heads and put them 
in two baskets. They were sent to London by a servant on a 


BOOK FOUR (1389-1400) 

horse, as though they were a catch of fish, to gladden the 
King and the Londoners. The Earl of Salisbury and Sir 
Thomas Despenser met with a similar fate in the place which 
they had gone to, for knights and squires acting for the King 
captured them and cut off their heads and sent them to Lon- 
don. In this same rising there were many other executions of 
knights and squires who had joined or sympathized with it; 
after which the country remained in a fairly peaceful state. 


It was said to the King and his advisers : ' Be on your guard, 
for the French show signs of wanting war and are assembling 
a large fleet at Harfleur. It is to be led by the Count of Saint- 
Pol and Sir Charles d'Albret. If the Earls of Huntingdon and 
Salisbury and the others who have been killed were still alive, 
it seems likely that the French would have come across al- 
ready; they had powerful sympathizers in England.' 

It was said to the King : ' Sire, as long as Richard of Bordeaux 
is alive, neither you nor the country will be secure.' 

The King replied : * I think you are right. But for my part I 
will never put him to death, since I took him under my pro- 
tection. I will keep my promise to him until it becomes ap- 
parent that he is behaving treasonably.' 

The King's knights said : ' It would be better for you if he 
were dead rather than alive. As long as the French know that 
he is there they will want to make war on you. They will hope 
to restore him to the throne, because he is married to the King 
of France's daughter.' 

To this the King of England made no reply, but went out 
of the room and left them talking together. He went to see his 
falconers and, placing a falcon on his wrist, became absorbed 
in feeding it. 

Not many days afterwards a true report ran through Lon- 
don that Richard of Bordeaux was dead. From what cause 
and how it happened I did not know at the time when I wrote 
these chronicles. His body was placed on a hearse with a black 
canopy over it. Four black horses were harnessed to it, led 



by two grooms in black, and four black-clad knights followed 
behind. So he left the Tower of London where he had died^ 
and was taken right through London at a walking-pace until 
they reached Cheapside, the main street of the city. There in 
the middle of the street the hearse halted, and the grooms and 
the knights with it, and so remained for two hours. And over 
twenty thousand people, men and women, came to see King 
Richard lying there, with his head on a black cushion and his 
face uncovered. Some were moved to pity to see him in that 
state, but others not. These said that for a long time past he 
had well deserved to die. 

Now, lords, consider well, kings, dukes, counts, prelates, 
all men of noble lineage and power, how fickle are the chances 
of this world. King Richard reigned over England for twenty- 
two years in great prosperity, holding rich estates and fiefs. 
No King of England before had come within a hundred 
thousand florins a year of spending as much as he did on the 
mere upkeep of his court and the pomp that went with it. For 
I, Jean Froissart, canon and treasurer of Chimay, saw and ob- 
served it at first hand. I spent three months in his household 
and was treated extremely well, because in my younger days I 
had been a personal secretary of the noble King Edward, his 
grandfather, and of my lady Philippa of Hainault, Queen of 
England, his grandmother. And when I went to take leave of 
him - that was at Windsor - he gave me through one of his 
knights, called Sir John Golafre, a goblet of silver gilt, 
weighing well over a pound, with a hundred nobles inside it, 
which has made me a richer man for the rest of my life. I have 
a strong obligation to pray for him and I am grieved to write 
of his death. But since I have compiled and written this his- 
tory and have continued it to the best of my knowledge and 
ability, I have recorded it to make known what became of him. 

In my time I heard two things which came true, though in 
very different ways. I remember that I was in Bordeaux, 
sitting at table, when King Richard was born. He came into 
the world on a Wednesday, on the stroke of ten. At that hour 

I. Richard II died in Pontefract Castle and his body was brought to 
London. The cause of death is still obscure. 


BOOK FOUR (1389-1400) 

Sir Richard de Pontchardon, who was Marshal of Aquitaine 
at the time, entered and said to me : ' Froissart, write down and 
place on record that her Highness the Princess has been de- 
livered of a fine boy, who has come into the world on Twelfth 
Day. He is a king's son, for his father is King of Galicia. 
King Peter has given him that kingdom and he will soon be 
off to conquer it. So the child comes of royal stock and by 
right he will yet be a king.' 

The gallant knight of Pontchardon was not wrong, since 
Richard reigned over England for twenty-two years, but 
when he said this he did not know what the end of his life 
would be. These are things to reflect upon and I have thought 
much about them since. For also in the year I first came to 
England to enter the service of King Edward and his noble 
queen Philippa, the royal couple with all their children went 
to Berkhamsted, a manor belonging to the Prince of Wales 
about thirty miles outside London. Their purpose was to say 
good-bye to the Prince and Princess, who were about to leave 
for Aquitaine to hold their court there. That was in the year 
1 361 and I, who was then about tvv^enty-four, listened to an 
old knight called Sir Bartholomew Burghersh sitting on a 
bench and talking to the Queen's maids-of-honour, who were 
from Hainault. This is what I heard him say : * We have a book 
in this country called The Brut,^ which many people believe to 
be the prophecies of Merlin. Now, according to this book, the 
crow^n of England will not pass to the Prince of Wales, nor to 
the Duke of Clarence, nor to the present Duke of Lancaster, 
nor to the Duke of York, nor to the Duke of Gloucester, 
although they are sons of King Edward, but it will return to 
the House of Lancaster. ' 

Now I, the author of this history, having reflected on all 
this, say that those two knights. Sir Richard de Pontchardon 

I. No doubt Layamon's Brut (c. 1200), the English expansion of Wace's 
Norman French Roman de Bnif, based in turn on Geoffrey of Monmouth's 
Hisioria Kegum Britamiiae. These works told the story of King Arthur. 
Froissart recounts this anecdote twice in different passages. The two 
versions, which are complementary and not conflicting, have been con- 
flated here. 



and Sir Bartholomew Burghersh, were both right. For I and 
everyone else saw Richard of Bordeaux on the throne of Eng- 
land for twenty-two years and, while he was still alive, the 
crown passing back to the House of Lancaster, when King 
Henry, in the circumstances I have related, became King of 
England. He had never thought of the crown nor would have 
done if Richard had behaved in a kinder and more friendly way 
towards him; and then it was the Londoners who made him 
King, to repair the great wrongs done to him and his children, 
which had aroused their sympathy. 

When the hearse, with Richard of Bordeaux on it, had been 
in Cheapside a full two hours, it moved on. The drivers drove 
it forward and the four knights walked behind. When they 
were outside London their servants met them with their 
horses. They mounted and rode on more rapidly, until they 
reached a village called Langley thirty miles from London, 
where there is a manor belonging to the King and Queen. 
There King Richard of Bordeaux lies buried. May God have 
mercy on his soul. 


Notes in Form of (glossary 

{The explanations given bear only on the ?7ieanings found in Froissart) 

artillery: Siege-engines of catapult type. See also Cannon. 

bailiff: Chief political officer of a town or district, deriving his 
authority from the King or other overlord. Of the same order as 
sherijf and (in France) seneschal, though these offices were higher. 

BANNERET, KNIGHT BANNERET: A high officcr who led a con- 
siderable body of troops, or was entitled to do so. His square or 
rectangular banner distinguished him from the ordinary knight, 
who carried a triangular pennon. These distinguishing signs had 
great practical importance in battles, particularly when fought by 
large heterogeneous armies such as the French kings assembled. 
The men fought in groups, which could only cohere round their 
leader's banner or, if visibility was poor, his battle-cry. 

B AS cot: Soldier of fortune, freebooter, used as part of name (e.g. 
the Bascot de Mauleon). 

BATTALION, DIVISION, BODY OF MEN: Thcsc arc translations of 
the single word bataille, according to context. A hataille was a 
single formation of men in battle-order, of no specific size. The 
English army at Crecy was divided into three batailles, numbering 
from 1,700 to 3,800 men, according to Froissart's figures. The 
Flemings at Roosebeke, computed at 50,000, formed a single large 
bataille. Bodies of men on the move ('column' or 'troop' in 
translation) are usually called routes. 

bombard: Type of cannon (q.v.). 

BOURC: Gascon title meaning 'bastard', but to which no stigma 
attached. It was adopted as a matter of course by illegitimate sons 
of prominent families. 

cannon: With two exceptions (mentioned below) the first men- 
tion of cannons in Froissart is at the siege of Romorantin (1356), 
where they were used to 'cast Greek fire and heavy bolts'. Other 
references follow in descriptions of sieges, but they are not noted 
as used in the field until 1382, in the battle between Ghent and 
Bruges (where cannons and/or ribalds are used) and the Battle of 
Roosebeke (bombards and cannons). The assumption is that be- 
fore that date gunpowder was little used in field warfare. The de- 
bated question of the use of cannons by the English at Crecy 



(1546) can be summarized thus: (i) It is mentioned in only two 
Froissart texts, the Amiens MS, composed after 1376, and the 
Chroniqiies Abregees^ probably composed in the thirteen- 
nineties, in each of which it merits one sentence. The final version 
of 1400 (Rome MS) does not refer to it. Neither does the widely 
circulated first version, composed 1369-73, though the reference 
to a thunderstorm might conceivably be held to have a bearing 
on the matter. Le Bel preserves a similar silence. (2) The contem- 
porary Italian chronicler Villani states that the English used 
'bombards shooting small iron balls, with fire, to frighten the 
horses and throw them into confusion. They made so much noise 
and reverberation that it was as though God was thundering.' 
The Grarides Chroniques de France also mentions 'three cannons'. 
(3) An order for the casting of cannons in 1346 has been found in 
English official records, though this does not necessarily prove 
that they accompanied the expedition and were carried over the 
whole route from La Hogue to Cr6cy. (4) Several cannon-balls 
believed to be of the correct calibre were unearthed on the battle- 
field between 1800 and 1850, 450 to 500 years after the battle. 
(See particularly A. H. Burne, The Crecy War, Eyre and Spottis- 
woode, 1935.) 

Everything considered, it would seem that, if cannons were 
fired at Crecy, they had little influence on the course of the battle 
and made little impression on eye-witnesses (except perhaps on 
the Genoese archers, who were probably Villani's informants). 
Also, their use at that date in field warfare would have been quite 
exceptional. However, Froissart does say that bombards were 
mounted on ships to be fired at the French land-forces attempting 
to relieve Calais (i 347). This would be even more exceptional and 
may have been an experiment which was soon abandoned. 

captal: Gascon title roughly equivalent to Count (e.g. the Captal 
de Buch). 

CHIVALROUS, chivalry: The usual rendering in this translation 
of courtois, courtoisie, and sometimes of gentil, gentillesse. The 
second two words refer basically to ' gentle (or noble) birth ', with 
an extension to the 'gentlemanly' qualities implied by that. 
{Che Valerie, like bachelerie, is normally used by Froissart as a col- 
lective noun for 'knights' {chevaliers), cognate to 'nobility' and 
'gentry', though here again there is some implication of quality, 
primarily military. A knight is assumed to be 'valiant'.) The 
wider and more significant word is courtois, meaning the opposite 
to ' harsh ', ' brutal ' or ' barbarous '. Prisoners are given or refused 



' courteous ' or ' chivalrous ' treatment. Prison conrtoise is captivity 
in comfortable conditions. The sense is often entirely materialistic 
and, though the word occurs very frequently, not much mystique 
attaches to it. The nearest single modern equivalent is 'civilized'. 

companion: A fellow-soldier (cf. the modern American 'buddy') 
or simply a soldier, considered as one of a unit. The Companies 
were bands of mercenaries who kept together for purposes of 
plunder or to be hired for a regular war. 

constable: The effective commander-in-chief, appointed either 
for a particular battle or campaign, or permanently, as Du 
Guesclin in 1370. 

CROWN, GOLD CROWN: French coin (same as eai) worth 3 


florin: Coin first struck in Florence in 1252 and used internation- 
ally. Nominal English value: zs. 

FRANCE, KiNGDOMOF FRANCE: The territory under the immedi- 
ate jurisdiction of the King of France, as distinct from territories 
whose first allegiance was to their own dukes and counts, or 
which were ruled by the English or others. Thus, Montreuil, 
Calais, Vannes, Poitiers, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Avignon, were not 
considered to be 'in France'. In its narrowest sense, 'France' 
was limited to the lie de France. (See map at end of book.) 

FRENCH: Often denotes allegiance, rather than nationality. The 
Lord of Albret married into the French royal family and ' became 
French'. The inhabitants of La Rochelle were 'French' only after 
they had changed sides. 'English is used in the same way. The 
Captal de Buch, a Gascon lord, was ' English ' because he served 
the Black Prince. The Bascot de Alauleon considered himself a 
loyal Englishman because, he claimed, he had always fought in the 
English interest. Since many mercenaries showed their 'English' 
sympathies by plundering the country for personal profit, the 
English acquired a rather worse name in France than they ob- 
jectively deserved. 

GREEK fire: A combustiblc material which could be shot from 
cannons and siege-engines. The exact formula has been lost. It 
seems to have resembled the modern napalm. 

hackney: An all-purpose horse used by merchants and other 
ordinary people for travelling. Sometimes equivalent to 'pony'. 

helm, helmet: These words have been preferred throughout to 
the less familiar but often more correct bassinet^ which is Froissart's 
usual word. He speaks of Edward Ill's bassinet at Crecy, the 



Black Prince's at Poitiers, and the bassinets of Etienne Marcel's 
citizen-soldiers. For the jousting at St Inglevert the contenders 
wore helms. Besides some differences in shape, the main distinction 
was that the bassinet had a movable vizor, the helm not. 

IRREGULARS, LIGHT INFANTRY: The translation of several 
words, such as brigands, ribands, coustillers. In general, they were 
undrafted troops, with light or no armour and carrying a coiistille 
(long knife or short sword), who accompanied the organized 
armies for what they could pick up. In the English armies, 
according to Froissart, they were Welsh, Irish and Cornishmen. 
At Winchelsea, the Spaniards had brigands to hurl stones from the 

JACK, jACKGOOD man: From the name Jacques Bonhomme given to 
peasants in France, whence the Jacquerie. The name is thought to 
derive from jacque (a jerkin), considered as the peasants' dis- 
tinctive wear, though a garment of that name was worn by 
Edward III at Winchelsea and by Bolingbroke on the eve of his 
coronation - in the second case made of cloth-of-gold. ' Good- 
man ' is slightly contemptuous, as ' my good man ' still is today, 
and one need not be confused by the fact that in Froissart the 
'goodmen' are usually 'bad men'. 
oust: An encounter, always with lances, between two mounted 
men, in a tournament or a real battle. As it was the most prized 
knightly exercise, it was also the form of fighting which Froissart 
describes with most zest. (For detail, see Tournament at St Inglevert, 
p. 373-) Edward III, fighting a sea-battle as though it were a land- 
battle, according to the naval tactics of the time, 'has a joust' at a 
Spanish ship, i.e. rams it. 

lance: (i) The weapon. (2) Each 'course' or running-together of 
two mounted combatants in a tournament. The rules might re- 
quire them to run three, or six, lances. Cp. 'round' in boxing. 
(3) A section consisting of one fully equipped mounted fighting- 
man, usually a knight or squire, supported by servants and 
auxiliary soldiers, such as two archers. A force of forty 'lances' 
could easily number 200 men in all. 

man-at-arms: A trained, fully equipped fighting-man, with 
armour, including the 'knights and squires' but not necessarily 
restricted to them. Always distinguished from the archers and the 
irregulars (q.v.). 

marshal: As the word implies, his main duty was to marshal 
armies on the battle-field, or when on the move. Like Constable, 
this also became a permanent title. 



MINSTRELS, minstrelsy: Any kind of music-makers and singers, 
and the art of doing this as entertainment. It applied also to 
street-bands and to the trumpeters and others who accompanied 
armies. There were 'minstrels' on board Edward Ill's ship at 
Winchelsea. Even the clansmen who blew horns at Otterburn are 
called 'minstrels'. The people who spent the night banging cym- 
bals and drums and blowing trumpets and cornets to celebrate 
the victory of Sluys were also practising 'minstrelsy', 

noble: Gold coin first struck by Edward III in 1 344, with value of 
6/. Sd. It was worth about twice as much as the French franc and 
mouton. Mentions earlier than 1344 are anachronisms. 

palfrey: a well-bred riding-horse, lighter than a rounsey (q.v.). 
Edward III rode one when inspecting his men before Crecy. The 
Duchess of Touraine rode one at the official entry into Paris in 

rounsey: a strong horse used for travelling, drawing loads, or 
riding about, but not, by knights at least, for actual fighting. The 
latter was a coursier^ translated in this book as ' horse ' or ' charger '. 

villein: Properly, a labourer tied to his overlord's land under the 
feudal system. By extension, all peasants and the common people 
of the towns. 


France and neighbouring territories 
in the fourteenth century 

M o 

__ Edward Ill's route to Crecy 
Black Prince's route to Poitiers 

(both according to Froissart) 




► Orcnsc 


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Pamplona • 

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Calais •Ropsebeke -V^' •Liege 

russels ~^ 

• Cologne 



^ S»VaIcnciennes 


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• Pois 




Tarbes f Carcassonne 





Index of Persons 

Achar, St, Bishop of Tournai (627- 
38), 400 

Ackerman, Francis, Captain of 
Ghent, 240 

Actaeon, 278-9 

Acy, Regnault d', 150 

Agace, Gobin, 79-80, 82 

Aimery, John, English (?) mer- 
cenary captain, 283, 284-5, 

Aire, Jean d', 107 

Aiasselle, Lord of (unidentified, ( ?) 
Halsale, Lascelles), 84 

Albrecht, German squire, 162 

AJbret, Armand-Amanieu, Lord of, 

Albret, Charles d', son of above, 

393, 468 
Albret, Sir Perducas d', Gascon 

captain, 176, 219, 227 
Alengon, Charles II, Count of, 

brother of Philip VI of France, 

85, 88, 90, 91 
Alen^on, Pierre, Count of, third 

son of above, 129, 169, 189, 

305, 309-13 
Amiens, Bishop of and a Cardinal 

(Jean de la Grange), 272 
Amposta, Castellan of, 133, 137 
Amurat I, Ottoman Sultan, 315 
Angle, Sir Guichard d'. Earl of 

Huntingdon (1377-80), 138, 

140, 176, 178, 194, 196, 197 
Anjou, Louis, Count, then Duke 

of, earlier Count of Touraine, 

second son of John II of 

France, 128, 138, 146, 167, 

175, 182, 189, 190, 201-2, 209- 

10, 280, 289, 384 
Anjou, Marie de Chatillon, Duchess 

of, wife of Louis, 210, 384 


Anne of Bohemia, first wife of 

Richard II, 252, 416 
Annequin, Baudouin d', 140 
Armagnac, Bernard, Count of 

(1391-1418), 268 
Armagnac, Jean II, Count of 

(1373-81), 268 
Armagnac, Jean III, Count of 

(1381-91), 290 
Armenia, Leon de Lusignan, King 

of, 357 
Artevelde, James van, 57, 61, 64, 

Artevelde, Philip van, son of 

above, 231-5, 238, 240-42, 

Arthur, King, 39, 66, 67, 196, 470 
Artois, Charles d'. Count of 

Longueville, son of Robert II 

d' Artois, 139 
Artois, Jean d', see^ Eu, Counts of 
Artois, Philippe d', see Eu, Counts 

Artois, Robert I d', 251 
Artois, Robert II d', son of Philippe 

d'Artois above, 82 
Arundel, Edmund Fitzalan, second 

Earl of, executed 1326, 41, 

Arundel, Sir John (i), probably 

father of following, 195, 197 
Arundel, Sir John (2), 424 
Arundel, Richard 11 Fit2alan, third 

Earl of, son of Edmund above, 

70, 84, 87, 105, 114 
Arundel, Richard III Fitzalan, 

fourth Earl of and Earl of 

Surrey, son of Richard II 

Fitzalan, executed 1397, 316, 

424, 427, 430, 431-2, 433, 

440, 456, 461 


Arundel, Countess of, wife of 
Richard III Fitzalan, 419 

Arundel, Thomas Fitzalan, fifth 
Earl of and Earl of Surrey, 

45 3 > 447 

Arundel, Thomas, 3ishop of Ely 
(1374), Archbishop of York 
(1388), Archbishop of Canter- 
bury' (1396), uncle of above, 
442-4, 445, 449, 462, 465 

Arundel, Sir William, 424 

Athens, Gautier de Brienne, Duke 
of, 137 

Aubigny, Lord of, 85, 92 

Aubergeon, Guichard, military 
leader, 285, 287 

Aubrecicourt, Sir Eustace d', 127, 
134, 137, 161-2, 176 

Aubrecicourt, Sir Jean d', nephew 
(?) of Eustace, 380 

Audley, Sir James, 114, 134, 

Audley, Sir Peter, brother of James 

Audrehem, Arnoul d'. Marshal of 

France, 135, 287 
Aumale, Jean de Ponthieu, Count 

of, 90 
Aumale, Catherine d'Artois, Coun- 
tess of, wife of Jean, 82 
Auvergne, Beraud 11, Dauphin of, 

Auxerre, Jean II de Chalon, Count 

of, 90 

Badefol, Seguin de, mercenary 

captain, 283, 291 
Bageran, Naudon de, mercenary 

captain, 176, 283 
Bailleul, Gauvain de, 170 
Ball, John, 212-13, 217, 220, 221, 

224, 229 
Bar. Duchess of (Marie de France, 

daughter of John the Good, 

wife of Robert de Bar), 351, 


Bar, Henri de, first son of Marie de 

France, 393 
Bar, Philippe de, brother of Henri, 


Barbavara, Genoese sea-captain, 
62, 64 

Basset, Ralph, 84, 104 

Bataille, mercenary captain, 283 

Bavaria, Albert, Duke of, see 
Hainault, Counts of 

Bavaria, Frederick, Duke of, 253- 
6, 258-9 

Bavaria, Stephen, Duke of, elder 
brother of above, 252, 253-5 

Bazeilles, Le Moine de, Luxem- 
bourg knight, 85-6, 89 

Beam, Arnaut-Guillaume de, ille- 
gitimate brother of Gaston- 
Phoebus de Foix, 295 

Beam, Pierre de, illegitimate 
brother of Gaston-Phoebus 
de Foix, 275-8 

Beauchamp, Sir John ('little Beau- 
champ '), court-knight of 
Richard II, 318, 325, 327 

Beauchamp, Sir Louis de (?), 114 

Beauchamp, Thomas de, see War- 
wick, Earls of 

Beauchamp, Sir William de, young- 
est son of Thomas de Beau- 
champ, Earl of Warwick, 

Beaufort, John (of Lancaster), 
legitimized elder son of John 
of Gaunt and Catherine 
Swynford, 419 

Beaufort, Henry, younger son of 
John of Gaunt and Catherine 
Swynford, Bishop of Lincoln 
(1398), Bishop of Winchester 
(1404), Henry V's Chancellor, 
etc., 419 

Beaufort, Roger de, French squire, 

175. ^76, 178-9 
Beaufort, Lord of, see Namur, 
Robert of 



Beaujeu, Antoine, Lord of, son of 
fidouard, 287 

Beaujeu, fidouard de, 85, 92, 102 

Beaumont, Henry de, 42-3 

Beaumont, John de, great-grand- 
son of Henry, 375-6, 380 

Behuchet, Nicolas (called Peter in 
error), French admiral, 62, 64 

Berguettes, Jean de, 170 

Berkeley, Thomas (Edward II's 
gaoler), 114 

Berry, Jean, Duke of third son of 
John II of France, uncle of 
Charles VI, patron of letters ; 
before 1360 was Count of 
Poitiers, 169, 175, 189, 308, 
313, 351-2, 355, 362-9, 393, 

397, 398, 401,439 
Berry, Jeanne (de Boulogne) 
Duchess of, wife of Jean, 351, 

Berry, Marie de, daughter of 

Jeanne, 439 
Bethisi, Lus de (also Bekisi, 

Berkusy), 162 
Betisac, Jean de. Secretary to Duke 

of Berry, 362-70 
Beziers, Bishop of (Barthelemi de 

Monclave), 366 
Biscay, Countess Florence of, 275- 

Black Prince, see Wales, Prince of 
Blaket, Thomas, 380 
Blois family (chronologically) : 
Guy I de Chatillon, Count of 

Blois, d. 1342 
Louis IV, Count of Blois, first 
son of Guy, k. Crecy 1346, 
72, 78, 85, 90 
Charles, younger son of Guy I, 
claimed dukedom of Brittany, 

Louis V, Count of Blois, first 

son of Louis IV, d. 1372, 288 
Jean, Count of Blois, second son 

of Louis IV, d. 1381, 288 

Guy II de Chatillon, Count of 
Blois (1381-97), third son of 
Louis IV, Froissart's patron, 
169, 175, 263, 288, 294, 305 

Bohemia, Charles, King of, Ger- 
man King (i 347), Holy Roman 
Emperor (1355), son of John 
the Blind, 72, 89, 90, 207 

Bohemia, John the Blind, King of, 
k. Crecy 1346, 72, 78, 81, 85, 

Bohemia, Wenceslas of, Duke of 
Luxembourg and Brabant, 
second son of John, Froissart's 
patron, 207, 264 

Bohun, Eleanor of, see Gloucester, 
Duchess of 

Bohun, Mary of, sister of Eleanor, 
wife of Bolingbroke, Countess 
of Derby, 419 

Bolingbroke, first son of John of 
Gaunt, Earl of Derby^ then 
Duke of Lancaster, then 
Henry IV, 432, 433-40, 442-- 
71 passim 

Boniface IX, Roman Pope (1389- 
1404), 398 

Boucicaut, Jean Le Meingre, the 
elder, military leader, d. 1367, 
124-5, 167, 315 

Boucicaut, Jean Le Meingre, the 
younger, military leader, eldest 
son of above, d. 1421, 314, 

373-5, 378-9, 379-80 
Boulogne, Jean II, Count of 

Auvergne and Boulogne, 364 
Boulogne, Robin de, squire, 315 
Bourbon, Sir Gerard de. Lord of 

Montperreux, 287 
Bourbon, Sir Guillaume de, brother 

of Gerard, 287 
Bourbon, Jacques and Jean de, see 

La Marche and Ponthieu, 

Counts of 
Bourbon, Louis II, Duke of, cousin 

of John II of France, 169, 175, 



Bourbon, Louis II - conid. 

191, 252, 267, 313, 329, 351, 

355. 366, 393. 394,401 

Bourchier, Robert, Chancellor of 
England (i 340-1), 84 

Brabant, John III, Duke of, 57 

Brabant, Duke of, see Bohemia, 
Wenceslas of 

Brabant, Jeanne, Duchess of, wife 
of above, 207, 252-8, 402, 403 

Braque, Sir Nicolas, 167, 194 

Brembre, Nicholas, 227-8, 318, 
322, 325, 327 

Breteuil, Bourc de, mercenary 
captain, 176, 283 

Briquet, Sir Robert, English (?) 
mercenary captain, 283, 288 

Brittany, Jean V, Duke of, son of 
Jean IV of Brittany and Coun- 
tess Jeanne de Montfort, 186, 
187, 191, 196, 305, 318, 385, 
392, 396, 398, 444, 445, 446 

Brocas, Sir Bernard (unidentified), 


Bruce, see David, Robert Bruce 

Buch, Jean de Grailly, Captal de, 
Gascon baron, one of Black 
Prince's commanders, 125, 
127. 139. 153, 154, 195. 281-2, 
284, 407 

Buckingham, Earl of, see Glouces- 
ter, Duke of 

Bucy, Simon de, financial officer of 
John the Good, 147 

Bude, Silvester, Breton mercenary 
captain, 206, 208, 210 

Bueil, Sir Jean de, 188, 384 

Burghersh, Lord Bartholomew I, 
military leader, d. 1335, 84 

Burghersh, Lord Bartholomew II, 
son of above, military leader, 
d. 1369, 114, 127, 140, 163-4, 
168, 470-71 

Burghersh, Henry, uncle of Bar- 
tholomew II, see Lincoln, 
Bishops of 

Burgundy, Margaret, Duchess of, 
wife of Philip, 252, 256, 258, 

351, 357 
Burgundy, Philip the Bold, Duke 
of, fourth son of John II of 
France, uncle of Charles VI, 
129, 139, 141, 143, 189, 191, 
232,256,257-9,303,313, 352, 

355. 393. 395. 397-8, 401, 

Burley, Sir Richard, 333 
Burley, Sir Simon, 307, 317-19, 

Buxhull, Sir Alan, Constable of 

Tower (1365-81), 168 

Calveley, Sir Hugh, 288 
Cambrai, Bishop of, 207 
Cambridge, Earl of, see York, 

Duke of 
Camus, Bourc de, mercenary cap- 
tain, 283 
Canterbury, Archbishops of: 
1333-48, John de Stratford, 69 
1375-81, Simon de Sudbury, 
Chancellor of England, 212, 
213, 214, 216, 218, 220 
1381-96, William Courtenay, 

316, 319, 326-7, 335, 426 
1 396-1414, Thomas Arundel 


Cantiron, Jean de, 342 
Carrouges, Sir Jean de, 309-15 
Carrouges, Lady of, wife of Jean, 

Carsuelle, mercenary captain, 283, 

285, 287, 288 
Castelnau, Jean de, 342 
Caudourier or Chauderier, Jean, 

Mayor of La Rochelle, 182-5 
Caupenne, Garcie-Arnaut, Bourc 

de, 280, 284, 290, 294 
Caupenne, Raymonnet de, 386 
Cervoles, Regnault (Arnaud) de, 

'the Archpriest', 129, 148, 

283, 285 



Chandos, Sir John, 84, 91, 115, 

123-4, i3^-2> 135, 136, 137, 
Charles IV, King of France (1322- 

28), 41, 59 

Charles V, King of France (1364- 
80), previously Duke of Nor- 
mandy (1355-64) and Regent, 
129, 133, 135, 137-8, 144, 146, 
147-8, 149-50, 155-6, 158-60, 
161, 167, 169, 175, 181, 185-6, 
187, 188-90, 193-5, 198, 201, 
206, 207, 210, 252, 281, 288 

Charles VI, King of France (i 3 80- 
1422), 242, 245, 247, 248-9, 
250-51, 252-9, 303, 313, 314, 
351, 356, 357-60, 361-2, 365, 
367, 369, 370-72, 373, 380-81, 
384, 392-401, 439-40, 449 

Charles the Bad, see Navarre 

Charny, Geoffroy de, k. Poitiers 
1356, 102, 129, 138, 140 

Charny, Jean de, 159-60 

Chatillon, Gautier de, 193 

Chatillon, Guy de, see Blois family 

Chaucer, Geoffrey, 194, 418 

Chaumont, Hermit of, 124-5 

Chaumont, Lord of, 176 

Cheney or Cheyne, English mer- 
cenary captain, 288 

Clarence, Lionel, Duke of, third 
son of Edward m, 169, 412, 
423, 470 

Clement VI, Pope (1342-52), 112 

Clement VII, Pope in Avignon 
(1378-94), previously Robert, 
Cardinal of Geneva, 204, 205- 
10, 247, 361, 366, 399 

Clermont, Jean de, French Marshal, 
k. Poitiers 1356, 131 -2, 135 

Clermont, Robert de. Marshal of 
Normandy, younger brother 
of Jean, 150 

Clifford, Sir Lewis, 376, 380 

Clifford, Robert de, eighth Baron, 

Clifford, Sir Thomas (not clearly 
identified), 84 

Clisson, Olivier de. Constable of 
France (from 1380), 187, 189- 
91, 245, 257, 303, 304, 308, 
385, 392, 397 

Clynton, Sir John, 380 

Cobham, John de, third Baron, 193 

Cobham, Sir Reginald, 83, 84, 91, 
95, 114, 140, 142 

Conf^ans, Jean de. Lord of Dam- 
pierre, 150 

Corbet, Sir Thomas, 433, 457 

Corresse, Raymond de, 296-302 

Corresse, Lady of, 276, 297-300 

Cosington, Sir Stephen de, 215 

Costerec, Brin, 412-13 

Coucy, Enguerrand VI de, m. (i) 
Edward Ill's daughter Isa- 
bella, (2) Isabella of Lorraine. 
Finally 'became French' 1377, 
returning his Garter Order, 
155, 168, 194, 245, 256, 257, 
303, 317, 393, 400, 402-3 

Coucy, Isabella de, second wife of 
Engverrand, 351, 357, 358 

Coucy, Philippa de, daughter of 
E. de Coucy by first wife, m. 
Robert de Vere, Earl of 
Oxford (q. v.), 317, 402 

Courcy, Fran9oise Paynel, Lady 

of, 453 
Couzan, Guy de, 287 
Craon, Amauri de, 125 
Craon, Pierre de, 382, 383-5, 392, 

Credon, Sir Richard, 408, 426 
Crystede ('Castide'), Henry, 409- 

Curton, Pierre de, Gascon mer- 
cenary captain, 287 

Dagworth, Thomas, 68 
Dammartin, Charles de Trie, Count 

of, 140, 144, 167 
Danville, Jean, 167 



Dauphin, Guichard, 287 

David II (Bruce), King of Scotland 

(1329-71), 57, 98 
Delaval, Sir Raymond, 339 
Delawar, Lord John, 84 
Derby, Earl of, see (i) Lancaster 

Henry of Grosmont, (2) 

Derby, John, Receiver of Lincoln, 

Des Bordes, Guillaume, 188, 359 
Des Bordes, Jean, son of above, 


The Despensers (chronologically): 
Despenser, Hugh Le, ' the Elder ', 

Earl of Winchester, 40, 41-2 
Despenser, Hugh Le, 'the 
Younger', son of Hugh 'the 
Elder', 40-44, 57, 44i 
Despenser, Edward Le, grand- 
son of above, 43, 187, 192 
Despenser, Thomas Le, Earl of 
Gloucester (1397-99), son of 
above, 45 5 , 466-8 
Devereux, Sir John, second Baron, 

Donstienne, Alart de, 288 
Douglas family (chronologically): 
Douglas, Sir James, ' the Good ', 

d. 1330, 47, 52 
Douglas, William, first Earl of, 

d. 1385, 139, 342 
Douglas, James, second Earl of, 
k. at Otterburn 1388, 336, 
337-40, 341-5 
Douglas, Sir Archibald, third 
Earl (i 388-1400), 'the Black 
Douglas', illegitimate son of 
above, 337 
Dublin, Archbishop of (1390-6) 

Robert Waldby, 427 
Du Bois (Van den Bossche), Pierre, 

231, 240 
Du Guesclin, Bertrand, Count of 
Longueville (1364), Duke of ' 
Tristemare (1366), Constable 

of France (1370-80), 170, 171, 
173- I75> 181, 182, 186, 188- 
91, 284, 287, 330 
Du Guesclin, Olivier, brother of 

Bertrand, d. c. 1403, 330, 333 
Du Pin, Ernauton, innkeeper at 

Orthez, 263, 280 
Duras, Robert de. Prince of Morea, 
third son of Jean de Sicile, 
Durham, Bishops of: 

1333-45, Richard de Bury, 57 
1345-81, Thomas Hatfield, 69 
1382-8, John Fordham. 
1 388-1406, Walter Skirlaw, 340, 
346, 347 
Dymoke, Sir John (?), King's 
Champion, 466 

Edmund Langley, see York, Duke 

Edward I, King of England (1272- 

Edward II, King of England (i 307- 

27), 39-45 
Edward III, King of England 

(1327-77), 39, 41, 45, 46, 49- 
50, 53, 5^-H po^^i^y 91-110, 
113-19, 163, 165, 167-9, 183, 
193-8, 222, 242, 281-2, 402, 
406, 411, 421, 438, 442, 470 

Edward of Woodstock, see Wales, 
Prince of 

fipee, Raymonnet de 1*, mercenary 
captain, 289 

Espagne, Arnauton d', 386 

Espinasse, Philibert de 1', 193 

Espiote, mercenary captain, 176, 
283, 287 

Essarts, Pepin des, 159 

fitampes, Louis d'fivreux. Count 

of, 144, 364 
Eu, Jean d'Artois, Count of (1350- 
86) in succession to Count of 
Guines and Eu (q.v.), 139, 
143, 167 



Eu, Philippe d'Artois, Count of 
(1386-97), son of Jean, 393, 

Fagnolle, Hugues, Lord of, 72 
Fernando de Castro, 171, 172, 173 
Fiennes, Moreau (Robert) de. 

Constable of France (135 6-70), 

Fife, William, Earl of, 336 
Flanders, LxDuis I ('de Crecy'), 

Count of, 57, 59, 72, 78, 85, 

90, 91, 99-100 
Flanders, Louis II (de Male), Count 

of, son of Louis I, 99-101, 

207-8, 231, 232, 234-42, 245 
Flanders, the Hare of, illegitimate 

son of above, 250 
Florimont, mercenary captain, 210 
Foix, Countess Agnes of, wife of 

Gaston III, 266-8 
Foix, Gaston III (Gaston-Phoe- 

bus). Count of, 153, 154, 

263-74, 275, 276, 281, 295-6, 

299, 302, 342, 370, 386-91 
Foix, Gaston de, son of Gaston 

III, 266, 268-74, 391 
Foix, Yvain de, illegitimate son of 

Gaston III, 269-70, 370, 386- 
Forez, Louis, Count of, 282 

Gabaston, Pierre de, 386 
Garencieres, Lord of, 371, 380 
Gaunt, John of, fourth son of 
Edward III, Earl of Richmond 
(1342), Duke of Lancaster 
(1362-99), 114, 118, 169, 176, 
178-80, 186-8, 190-2, 195, 
211, 217, 220, 254, 303, 307, 
328-34, 404, 407, 418-20, 423, 


438-9, 470 
Gelderland, Renaud II, Count then 

Duke of, 57 
Geoffrey of Monmouth, 470 

Ghistelles, Jean de, 137, 163-4 

Giac, Louis de, 315 

Giles, Richard, 288 

Gloucester, Thomas of Wood- 
stock, Duke of. Earl of 
Buckingham and Essex, 
youngest son of Edward III, 
197, 316, 319-25, 404, 407, 
419, 421-33, 440, 455, 456, 
461, 470 

Gloucester, Eleanor of Bohun, 
Duchess of, wife of Thomas, 
419, 429, 430, 431, 435 

Gloucester, Humphrey of, son of 
Eleanor, 431, 433, 447 

Gloucester, Earl of, see Despenser, 
Thomas Le 

Godemar du Fay, 78, 80-81 

Golafre, Sir John, 318, 324, 325, 
426, 469 

Gommegnies, Jean de, pro-English 
Hainaulter, Councillor of 
Albert of Bavaria, 220,402, 403 

Grailly, Jean de, illegitimate son of 
Captal de Buch, 407 

Gregory XI, Pope (1370-8), 201-3, 

Guiffart, Philippe, 160 

Guines, Raoul 11, Count of Guines 
and Eu, Constable of France, 
70, 73-5, 77 

Hainault, Albert Count of (1377- 
1404), Duke of Bavaria, 
brother of Count William III 
and Froissart's patron, 207, 
252, 255, 256, 259, 404, 406, 

Hainault, John of. Lord of Beau- 
mont, brother of Count 
William I, uncle of Queen 
Philippa, 37, 41-4, 72, 78, 81, 
85, 87, 90, 92 

Hainault, Margaret, Countess of. 
Duchess of Bavaria, wife of 
Count Albert, 252, 255-8 



Hainault, Philippa of. Queen of 

England, see Philippa 
Hainault, William I, Count of 

(1304-37), father of Philippa, 

57, 161 
Hainault, William II, Count of 

(1337-45), son of William I, 

61, 62, 64 
Hainault, William III, Count of 

Hainault, William IV, Count of 
(1404-17), Count of Ostrevant 


Hales, Sir Robert, Treasurer of 

England, 220 
Hales, Sir Stephen, 215 
Halewin, Morelet de, 248 
Hanekin, 118 
Hangest, Charles de, 393 
Hans, Herr (Here), Bohemian 

knight, 378 
Harcourt, Godfrey of, third son of 

Jean III, Count of Harcourt, 

68-70, 74, 76, 83, 84, 90, 146 
Harcourt, Jean IV, Count of, 

brother of Godfrey, 90 
Harcourt, Louis of, nephew of 

Jean IV, 176 
Harcourt, Marie of, prob. daughter 

of Jean IV, 357 
Harselly, Guillaume de, physician, 

Hart, Sir Robert, 344 
Hawkwood, Sir John, 283 
Hector of Troy, 343, 357 
Heere, Jacques de, 248 
Helme, Sir Ralph, 'the Green 

Squire' (unidentified), 173 
Henry IV of England, see Boling- 

Henry V of England ('Prince of 

Wales'), 463-5 
Henry II (of Trastamara), King of 

Castile (1369-79), 170, 172-3, 

175, 182, 195, 206, 288 
Hepburn, Sir Patrick, 342 

Herbault, Lord of, 384 

Hereford, Bishop of (in 1376), 
John Gilbert, 193 

Hereford, William de Bohun, Earl 
of {see also Oxford), 114 

Hermer or Hermier, St, 400 

Holland, Sir John, Earl of Hunt- 
ingdon (13 87-1400), half- 
brother of Richard II, third 
son of following, 220, 320, 
332> 374-5> 377, 380, 426, 
432, 436, 438, 442, 448, 449, 

Holland, Sir Thomas I, Earl of 
Kent in right of his wife Joan 
of Kent (q.v.), ^. 1360, 75, 77, 
84, 114, 46o(?) 

Holland, Thomas II and III, see 
Kent, Earls of 

Holme ( ? Helme), Richard, English 
mercenary captain, 288 

Huntingdon, Earl of, see (i) Angle, 
Sir Guichard d', (2) Holland, 
Sir John 

Huntingdon, William Clinton, Earl 
of (1337-54), 70-71, 77 

Innocent VI, Pope (1352-62), 112, 
148, 165 

Ireland, Duke of, see Oxford, Earl 
of (Robert de Vere) 

Isabella, Queen of England, daugh- 
ter of Philip rV of France, 
mother of Edward III, 39-45, 

Isabella, daughter of Edward III 

{m. Enguerrand de Coucy), 

99-100, 168, 317 
Isabella of Bavaria, Queen of 

France {m. Charles VI), 252-9, 

351-60, 370-72, 394, 400 
Isabella of France, daughter of 

Isabella of Bavaria, second 

wife of Richard II, 407-8, 418, 

427, 433, 440, 454 
Ivr}% Charles, Baron of, 393 



Jack Goodman or Jacques Bon- 
homme, 152, 164, 211 

Joan of Kent, daughter of Edmund 
of Woodstock, Earl of Kent, 
marriage with William de 
Montacute, Earl of Salisbury, 
set aside, m. (i) Sir Thomas I 
Holland, (2) Edward of Wood- 
stock, Prince of Wales, 59, 67, 
179, 220, 222, 228, 460, 470 

Joanna of Naples, see Naples, 
Queen of 

John (Juan) I, King of Castile 
(1379-90), 295, 303. 329, 332- 


John of Gaunt, see Gaunt 

John 11, the Good, King of France 
(1350-64), previously Duke of 
Normandy (1331-50), 38, 60, 
61, 64-5, 68, 120, 121-3, 126- 
31, 136, 138-45, 146, 167-9, 

I95> 291,403,455 
John I, King of Portugal (1383- 

1433), 328, 329 
Joinville and Vaudemont, Henri 

VI, Gjunt of, grandson of the 

chronicler of St Louis, 144 
Jouel, Jean, mercenary captain, 

283, 284 
Juliers, Isabel de, daughter of 

William, 161 -2 
Juliers, Count William of, 161 

Kent, Joan of, see Joan 

Kent, Earl of (Edmund of Wood- 
stock), youngest son of 
Edward I, 40, 41 

Kent, John, Earl of, son of 
Edmund, 69, 161 

Kent, Thomas Holland II, Earl of, 
son of Thomas Holland I and 
Joan of Kent (qq.v.), half- 
brother of Richard 11, 197, 

Kent, Thomas Holland III, Earl 
of (i 397-1400), Duke of 

Surrey, son of Thomas 

Holland II, 426, 466-8 
Kieret (or Quieret), Hugues, 

French admiral, 60, 62, 64 
Knollys, Sir Robert, 149, 175, 219, 


Lackinghay (?), Sir John, 421 


La Croise, Sir Louis de, 287 

La Frete, Lord of, 287 

Lakonnet, Yvain de, Breton mer